Wiltshire takes its name from the county town of Wilton and has some of the most beautiful areas of unspoilt natural terrain in England. Wilton was once the capital city of the ancient kingdom of Wessex. Archaeologists will love Wiltshire for its many settlements dating back to the Bronze Age. It is perhaps best known in the novels by Thomas Hardy.
Stonehenge is usually on every visitor’s list. It is a circle of standing stones set in an area of burial mounds and was probably erected around 2500BC. The summer solstice annually draws crowds to this site with practising Druids celebrating their religious rites. The Avebury Stone Circle is much less well known and even older than Stonehenge but it is less impressive. It is in fact the largest stone circle in Europe and is just 20 miles north of Stonehenge. It is known to have been built for ceremonial purposes in the Neolithic Period. Avebury consisted of 200 standing stones set in an outer and inner circle surrounded by a high bank and a ditch. The Cherhill White Horse is another ancient site which has been carved from the chalk hills.
Salisbury is the only city in Wiltshire and has a magnificent cathedral which can be seen for miles in the flat countryside. Salisbury is a delightful old market town which attracts many visitors each year.
Other interesting places to visit in Wiltshire are Bradford-on-Avon with its historic canals, wool producing history and incredible buildings. Wilton is famous for its fine wool carpets, the battles fought here between King Alfred and the invading Danes as well as Wilton House. This famous attraction, home to the Earl of Pembroke, should definitely be visited. It has magnificent state rooms and a fine collection of Van Dyck paintings. The extensive grounds include the Palladian Bridge, rose gardens, water gardens, a whispering seat and a Millennium water feature. Another famous historic house is Longleat, home to the Marquis of Bath, which has a drive-through safari park including lions in its extensive grounds.