Still standing after almost 4,500 years, the stone circle at Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world. The monument lies amidst the chalk landscape of the Wiltshire Downs. It has existed as giant time-piece signalling the arrival of summer and winter, as a place for gatherings and ceremonies (including burials), and a centre for healing. While there is much mystery surrounding this place, some remarkably contemporary-looking construction techniques are clearly evident.
An equally fascinating neolithic landscape lies just 25 miles to the north, this time with the great stone circles of Avebury at its centre – all part of the same World Heritage Site as Stonehenge. The main stone circle here measures some 300m in diameter, making it the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. Nearby Silbury Hill is the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe, and the West Kennet Long Barrow one of the most impressive neolithic chambered tombs in Britain. The sites were linked by a network of processional routes lined by ancient standing stones.
Built between 1220–60, Salisbury Cathedral is another place of superlatives. It is considered one of the most architecturally homogenous cathedrals in the country, all of it (apart from the slightly later tower and spire) constructed in the Early English style of Gothic architecture. It also boasts the tallest church spire in the land, topping out at 123m (404ft) above the ground. And inside the cathedral chapter house you'll find one of just four copies of the original Magna Carta, signed by King John in 1215.
Just to the north of Salisbury lies the original settlement, today known as Old Sarum. Its remains sit atop an ancient Iron-Age hill fort. With developments ranging from the Romans to Anglo Saxons, Normans and into the Middle Ages – a history spanning more than 2,000 years – it is one of the most intriguing historic sites in southern England.