Depending on the time of day our Black Cab tour will start off at the Iron Age fortress of Old Sarum, dating back to 500 BCE, with evidence of Neolithic settlement as far back as 5,000 years. The site was occupied by the Romans and then by the Saxons who displaced local Britons in 552 CE. 300 years later it was the turn of the Vikings. With the arrival of the Normans a motte and bailey was constructed to subdue the local population.
The Great English Day Out: Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral, Pub Lunch, Stonehenge & Avebury
Our qualified, registered and experienced Black Cab tour guides will take to the World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge and Avebury, as well as Salisbury Cathedral and Old Sarum, the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world. For lunch, how about a lovely pub by the River Avon? See some lovely thatched hamlets and flint and stone built churches and houses. Travel in air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven London Black Taxi built to accommodate up to 6 people and have access to most of the country's bus lanes, which means that, in most cases, we can go to places otherwise closed to other vehicles. Our pick ups are in London but we can pick up almost anywhere you wish.
By the early 1200s Old Sarum was no longer fit for purpose and so an enterprising bishop moved the whole settlement 1.5 miles (about 2 kilometres) south to the site of the modern city of Salisbury.
Salisbury Cathedral is a marvel of medieval engineering and its famous spire is remarkable, not only for its size—standing as it does at over 404 feet (about 110 metres), the tallest in England—but for its ingenuous weight saving honeycomb interior. Even so, Sir Christopher Wren (architect of London’s Saint Paul's Cathedral) was drafted to underpin the foundations as the spire had shifted. A 1960s survey revealed that the spire hadn't moved since, such was the genius of Wren.
Inside the cathedral we’ll see a 650 year old mechanical clock and fine early English Gothic architecture. Arguably the greatest treasure here is Magna Carta—a document that was sealed by King John in 1215. The 800 year old Chapter House with its Old Testament frieze is also not to be missed.
For lunch we like using a lovely pub by the River Avon. Fish and chips are on the menu as well as their very own Steak and Tanglefoot Ale Pie. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available.
After lunch we'll drive through some lovely thatched house villages. Your guide will explain how the thatch is constructed and en route we'll also see some chequering; a craft that uses local stone and flint. We'll also see St. Melor's church in the town of Amesbury—a place steeped in legend. It is here that the Saxon kings held their winter court and where the French queen of Henry III is buried. It is here, according to Thomas Malory, that disgraced Queen Guinevere retired to a priory. Nearby, hidden in the trees, is the mesolithic site of Blick Mead, a site inhabited for over 10,500 years. Within the same wood there is an unexcavated fortress, one candidate for being King Arthur's Camelot. Certainly the place name of Amesbury has connections with Arthur's time, as your guide will explain.
On to the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge now. This remarkable and unique site remains a mystery; we still don't know why it was built and what it was intended for. The site was developed over two distinct periods from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, a time span of almost one and a half thousand years. It seems that Stonehenge was constructed to mark the passage of the solstices, and maybe the moon as well. We'll cover some of these ideas on our tour, bearing in mind that Stonehenge is just a small part of a massive landscape that was developed by early man.
In the Visitor Centre we can experience what it is like to stand in the middle of the Stone circle as it developed over the centuries and during the passage of the seasons. On display is some of the artefacts that were unearthed in the area, including some tools used in the construction of Stonehenge. Video shorts will explain how the stones were erected and how bronze was smelted. Outside the Visitor Centre is some reconstructions of huts that were used in the Bronze age, based upon excavations in the area.
A courtesy bus will take us up to the site itself, taking us through the sacred landscape of prehistoric man. We exit via the shop where souvenirs can be purchased. There's also a restaurant at the site, where hot and cold drinks and snacks can be purchased.
Heading north, following the River Avon, we'll cross over the Kennet & Avon Canal to see a chalk figure carved on the hillside and a very rare Saxon church. On the other side of the Marlborough Hills we'll see the quarry from which the larger stones at Stonehenge were sourced. A short drive takes us to an observation area where we can see a long barrow (an ancient burial place) as well as ‘The Sanctuary’—an ancient site where it is believed a witch doctor lived, later to be a shrine upon one of the oldest trackways in the country.
A short distance away is Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric man made mound in Europe. Its purpose remains a mystery, although the structure has been thoroughly investigated, proving the people who built it had good knowledge of soil mechanics.
Next we will drive right into the middle of Avebury Stone Circle and take a walking tour with your guide who will explain how and when the site developed. We will also try to experience the power of the stones using some dowsing rods, and you can have a go yourself! Avebury also has a medieval church and the Henge Shop is an ideal place to browse for things such as books on crop circles, magic and dowsing.
On our return to London we join an old coaching road that takes us through the market towns of Marlborough (with the widest street in England and the tea shop where the Princess of Wales bought her cakes) and Hungerford, which played a pivotal part in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The town also claims to be the antiques capital of England. We shall cross over the crystal clear Kennet river before we head back to London.
Add The Great English Day Out: Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral, Pub Lunch, Stonehenge & Avebury to your itinerary
Itinerary so far...
Type: Black Cab Tour
Exclusives: Transportation in an iconic London Black Cab
Price: From GBP 780
Languages: English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese: other languages available on request
Pick up: Free pick up and drop-off anywhere in Central London
Booking: Pre-booking for all dates
Cancellations: 50% refund up to 5 days before reservation from the time of written confirmation. No refunds thereafter
- Old Sarum
- Salisbury Cathedral
- Pub Lunch
- Lockeridge Dene—stone quarry from which the larger stones at Stonehenge are constructed
- Silbury Hill—the largest pre-historic mound in Europe
- Avebury—the largest stone circle in the world