Stonehenge is a place of deep mystery. The people who erected these massive pillars of rock some 5000 years ago left incontrovertible proof of their presence, but no other clues about who they were, why they built this monument, or even how they managed to transport and raise these enormous stones.
We can only speculate about the origins and purposes of the Stonehenge circle, but it is clear that this is an area that has been considered sacred for millennia. The earliest signs of human habitation around it date back at least 10,000 years, and remains of Neolithic, Celtic and Roman settlements have all been uncovered in the same area.
Close to Stonehenge is the fortress of Old Sarum, which was a fort in Roman times that changed hands as new waves of Saxons and Vikings swept across England. Under Norman rule a great new fortress and cathedral were erected, and the town became a centre for trade.
By the 13th century nearby Salisbury overtook Old Sarum in importance as a market town and the magnificent new Salisbury cathedral attracted crowds of pilgrims. Gradually the older castle and cathedral were abandoned and their stones removed to be used for rebuilding elsewhere, leaving only the ruined walls and foundations that we see today.
Salisbury cathedral is still a spectacular sight, its enormous spire visible from miles around. The western facade glows gold when it is bathed by a setting sun, a sight that has inspired many paintings and photographs.
The interior of the cathedral holds the oldest working clock in the world, and you can see its mechanism on display. It also holds one of the last surviving copies of the Magna Carta.
Salisbury can easily be explored on foot. The area within the ancient cathedral walls, known as The Close is a lovely place to start once you've visited the cathedral.
This broad, green, tree lined expanse is surrounded by stately homes, some of which date back to medieval times when local clergy lived here. Some have now been turned into interesting museums well worth visiting.
Narrow cobbled streets lead out of The Close straight to the city centre where you will find lots of great shopping and food as well as an open air market in the town's central square.
Salisbury has been a popular market town ever since it's inception in the 13th century, attracting merchants and traders from surrounding areas. In 1361 it was decreed that the market would be held every Tuesday and saturday, a tradition that continues to this day.
This bustling market is one of the highlights of visiting Salisbury. Here you will find fresh produce as well as preserves, housewares and even a whole roasted pig (should you want one!). There is a fun, relaxed atmosphere here with street food stalls and picnic tables in the sun.
And if you want a quiet moment away from it all, follow the picturesque River Avon as it meanders its way through town and find a shady spot along its banks.
Salisbury's historic pubs have a medieval charm, reflecting a heritage spanning centuries. Walk into any of them and you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
Our favourite, the Haunch Of Venison, dating back 700 years, still has the original oak beams, wood panelling and antique furniture, along with a fantastic menu centred around venison. Their venison shepherd's pie was a revelation!
The Chapter House, was a stone cutting place 800 years ago when the famed cathedral was being built. Now a popular pub with 'quirky', comfortable rooms above, it is a wonderful place to base yourself while exploring the area around. The food here is exceptional too, try their classic sticky toffee pudding - so good, you'll want more after every meal!
This might be the easiest, tastiest, softest cake you will ever make. The dates and brown sugar add rich flavour and a lovely colour, while the sticky sauce topping will have you licking your fingers! For more of great British baking, try Scones!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
1 cup pitted soft dried dates, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp each: baking powder, dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla essence
For the Sticky Sauce:
1/4 cup each: butter, packed dark brown sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Combine dates and boiling water in small bowl. Allow to soften for 15 min to half an hour. Drain dates, reserving 1/2 cup of soaking water.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan (if that is unavailable, use an 8 inch square pan).
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger and salt in large mixing bowl.
In a blender or food processor, combine soaked dates, 1/2 cup soaking water, butter, eggs and vanilla. Blend till almost smooth.
Combine date mixture with flour mixture, folding it in gently until just combined. Do not over mix.
Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 min until cake is cooked through and springy to the touch.
Meanwhile, prepare the sticky sauce - combine butter, sugar and cream in small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir continuously until smooth and bubbling gently, about 2 min.
Spoon half of the sticky sauce all over top of cake. Reserve remainder of the sauce for serving later with cake.
Place cake under broiler for 1 min for top to caramelize and become sticky.
Cool 10 min, then slice and serve with reserved sticky sauce and whipped cream or ice cream.