You Could Once Take a Piece of Stonehenge Home

Daniel Ganninger
June 7, 2024

If you go to Stonehenge today, you’ll find that the famous 5,000-year-old prehistoric monument in England is roped off. No one is able to get close to it.

But it hasn’t always been that way. At one time, chisels used to be handed out to people visiting Stonehenge so they could chip off a piece of the ancient monument to take home. Not the best of ideas. Eventually, the site’s landowner, Sir Edmund Antrobus, decided it needed to be protected and taken care of. He had fences erected around it and began charging admission in 1901.

The land was sold in 1915, and in 1918, it was gifted to the nation and opened up again. Though the practice of chipping off pieces of the rock had been outlawed, people still continued to climb the stones and wear down the grass inside the monument.

By 1977, the entire area was roped off so no one could climb or go near the structure. Vandals have still managed to make their mark, however. In 2008, a piece of the Heel Stone was chipped off, and in 2013, someone decided that painting a smiley face on one of the rocks would be a cute way to make their mark. There is still access to the stones through a Special Access visit, which allows a limited number of visitors to walk amongst the stones outside of public hours.

Sources: Smithsonian Magazine, London Tool Kit