What are the most iconic archaeological sites in the world? There are the pyramids of Giza, of course, and the Athenian Acropolis—and then there's Stonehenge. The picturesque and, depending on whom you ask, mystical circle of massive stones in the English countryside draws over a million visitors every year. But how long has this been going on?
HistoryExtra, a BBC history blog, shares the prehistoric monument's surprisingly long history as a popular—if contentious—tourist destination.
By the end of the 19th century Stonehenge was a mess. Not only were casual visitors leaving food waste, scratching names on the stones and sometimes becoming drunk and rowdy, but the site was popular for large gatherings. In one case, a group of travelling London musicians performed among the stones, possibly with a piano, to a huge crowd, who arrived in carts, by bicycle and on foot. A critic writing for the newspaper, Sketch, was horrified. Stonehenge was no place for picnics or cyclists. “The popping of corks and the cracking of 19th-century jests,” he wrote, “ought to be put down by law.”
Put on your Druid robes and read the rest over at the source.