At the end of the 1970s, to help protect the ancient stones at Stonehenge, access inside the stone circle became restricted. Stonehenge's increasing popularity was creating difficulties controlling erosion and incredibly people were vandalising the stones with graffiti and even chipping off pieces as souvenirs. The restrictions have helped to preserve the inner circle and protect the stones for our generation and future generations to enjoy.
Today visitors are able to walk around the stone circle and whilst they can still get very close to the stones (see photo) they are unable to go inside the circle. There are however some exceptions to this restriction which not everyone knows about.
On the equinox and the solstice Stonehenge opens up the inner circle in the morning so that modern-day druids and other groups can observe and mark these key events. Whilst this is a fascinating time to be within the stone circle - they are extremely popular with sometimes over 10,000 people descending upon Stonehenge.
A more intimate and exclusive way to go inside the stone circle is on a Stonehenge inner circle tour. These are operated outside of the main public opening hours - normally around sunrise or sunset.
During an inner circle tour guests are allowed to step over the rope and spend an hour inside the stone circle. The total number of people is restricted to just 30 which is great for the atmosphere and for photos!
You are not allowed to touch the stones but up close you get a real feel for how big and majestic the stones are. On an inner circle tour I can also show you things which are not possible on a regular tour e.g. the graffiti by a very famous British individual and bullet marks!
It is truly an incredible and special experience. Stonehenge inner circle tours are not operated every day and due to the restriction on numbers - tickets often sell out months in advance - particularly for the summer months. This year, due to the coronavirus' impact on tourism numbers, tickets are much easier to come by and so there are still tickets available for August and September.
If you are interested in an inner circle tour these are the things you need to be aware of:
1. It is strongly recommended to book your tour as far as possible in advance - tickets normally sell out.
2. Tours are not daily and do not run in October nor November.
3. Inner circle tickets are non-refundable and have to be purchased in advance. They are more expensive than the normal Stonehenge entrance tickets so you should expect to pay more for a Stonehenge inner circle tour compared to a normal Stonehenge tour.
4. Unless there is availability on an evening tour you need to be prepared for an early start from your accommodation. Bath is approx. 50 minutes away from Stonehenge and guests must arrive 15 minutes before the tour time. The early morning tours range between 5am and 8am depending on the time of year.
5. It may not be possible to visit the Stonehenge Visitor Centre nor the Stonehenge Gift Shop on an inner circle tour as these follow the main public opening hours.
Bath Insider Tours has taken numerous guests on an inner circle tour at Stonehenge. If you are interested in this unique Stonehenge experience please visit my Stonehenge Inner Circle Tour page. Bath Insider Tours also offers regular half-day tours to Stonehenge as well as full-day tours taking in other nearby attractions. To quote one of my guests: "Stonehenge without a guide is just a bunch of rocks" - so let me help you create an experience you won't forget!