Woodhenge (SU 151 434), one of Britain's most sinister ancient sites, lies just 2 km north east from Stonehenge.Although the place can strike modern day visitors as little more than a rather confusing, bizarre and curious place, the location has a macabre history rare amongst such prehistoric landmarks.
Centred around the buried body of a murdered three year old child (its skull cleaved apart in a brutal human sacrifice), six concentric rings, holding over 160 immense 7.5 metre woodern posts were constructed, along with a cove of Standing Stones. This, in turn, was surrounded by an outer ditch (where a further body - this time of a teenager - was interrered) and a bank measuring 80 metres in diameter. The entrance to this huge ceremonial monument, like the mighty Stonehenge itself, was built to face the midsummer sunrise. Similarities between Stonehenge and Woodhenge continue with the arrangement of the wooden posts here (approximated to weigh around 5 tons each) being aligned in a fashion remarkably akin to those of the Blue Stones of Stonehenge. It is interesting to note at this point that Woodhenge has been dated to c. 2300 B.B., making the site older than some of its more famous stone cousin.
Over the course of history, these giant wooden posts were all lost to the ravages of time, leaving very little to mark the spot on which they once stood as being of any real significance to future generations. Fortunately, an intelligently eyed pilot, Sq. Lr. Gilbert Stuart Martin Insall V.C., spotted vegetative patterning in the field where Woodhenge had stood and documented his findings in detail aerial photography of the site. These photographs garnered enough interest amongst archaeological circles for the site to excavated between 1926 and 1929.
Today, Woodhenge is a popular stop off point for throngs of local tourists, albeit many of them en route to the more famous Stonehenge, and the Neolithic Class I Henge and Timber Circle has received a facelift in the form of colour coded concrete stumps which mark out the position and design of the original prehistoric posts.
This National Trust managed site has its own car park which (in 2007) is free to use.