Reading Time: 9 minutes
Stonehenge isn’t just a bunch of old stones. EMMA HEARD, from Weird Wiltshire blog, tells us about the ancient site’s spookier side, including ghosts, UFOs, cryptids and all sorts of strange goings on
Stonehenge is Wiltshire’s most famous feature. Standing proudly on the edge of Salisbury Plain, this impressive stone circle has been there since sometime between 2000 and 3000 BC and is a Neolithic World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
It’s a mysterious and magical place, with its secrets remaining buried in the mists of time. For centuries, academics have tried to figure it out, and even with their combined knowledge and brilliant minds, they continue to scratch their heads over the true purpose of Stonehenge.
The fact is, no one really knows what the purpose of Stonehenge is. An ancient meeting place, a sacrificial altar for the Druids, a Roman clock, or a Neolithic calendar? And who built it? The Ancient Britons are the likely candidates, but Wiltshire folklore claims it was built by the Devil himself in one single night. Other stories say it was constructed by Merlin after he stole the stones from the Giants in Ireland. Some UFO enthusiasts still maintain it is alien-built. It’s certainly a mystery.
I’m lucky enough to live nearby, and I feel an affinity for the place and the beautiful rolling chalk grassland surroundings. The whole site (which extends much further than the stone circle) has over 700 archaeological features, including henges, timber structures, enclosures, and burial mounds. The land is literally seeped in history.
And so, you will not be surprised to find out that there are quite a few stories of unusual occurrences associated with this awesome stone circle. Strange lights, cryptids, apparitions, and elementals. UFOs, levitation, and extreme weather events. Stonehenge has it all.
When I started my research, because of Stonehenge’s location on the edge of Salisbury Plain (now a vast military area), several accounts came from very credible and professionally employed witnesses. People are trained to think pragmatically and to look for a sensible explanation for unusual events. Events hold so much more sway when they come from more sceptical folk. And these are the stories I intend to relay to you today.
Keeping the nightly peace
What must be one of the best sources of ghostly experiences in any haunted location has to be the night security guards, paid to literally keep watch for anything out of the ordinary in the dead of night. Each night, a couple of security guards work at Stonehenge to discourage unwanted visitors.
The paranormal author, JA Higgins, contacted me when she found out I was looking for Stonehenge ghost stories. She had spoken to one of the security guards up there once and was told this guard had witnessed a shadow man walking around the stones one night. Voices, whispering, and singing sounds often come from the circle, but on investigation, there is no one around. Strange humming has often been heard, and the guards have reported feeling a weird electrical charge or energy. Something they cannot explain. There does seem to be some sort of connection between the energy of the land here and the stones. It is something that comes up regularly.
Another fantastic account has been passed onto me by another author in the paranormal world, MJ Wayland. It’s from another man stationed at Stonehenge back in 1972, only a year after the alleged vortex event we will come to shortly. Stonehenge was completely open to visitors back in the 1970s, and the army helped keep an eye on the place. The soldiers in our story were staying on Salisbury Plain for training exercises and had been put on a rota on Stonehenge security detail for a few nights. The soldier and his colleague patrolled the area throughout the evening, and by 2am, even the hippies hanging around had departed. It was deadly quiet.
Both soldiers had heard reports from their colleagues of a white lady seen gliding around the stones earlier that week, but neither had seen anything themselves, and they thought it all a bit of a laugh, really. They weren’t worried about ‘anything happening’ and probably took the story from their colleagues as a bit of a wind-up and, in fact, jokingly blamed the hippies and their ‘wacky backy’ for the sightings. But what happened to them later that night may have changed their minds and was something entirely different from the white lady sightings.
One of the soldiers decided to lie down on top of their Land Rover and have a short sleep while the other stayed on watch. The sleeping soldier was awoken suddenly by his colleague shouting at him. In a sleep-filled daze, he quickly realised he couldn’t feel the cold metal roof beneath him as his arm reached down, and within a split second, he realised he was floating above the vehicle. He was about to shout out in fright when he suddenly dropped down back onto the roof of the Land Rover.
The two soldiers were shocked by the whole levitation event. How can you possibly explain that away? After some discussion, they decided never to mention it ever again as it had scared them both so much. They also decided not to nap on duty for the remainder of their security shifts that summer. It is only now that this story can be told anonymously, as the man involved has sadly passed.
The mysterious phantom plane
As I mentioned earlier, this area has strong military connections, and if you ever visit the magical stones, you may well see the Airman’s Cross by the main visitor’s centre. It hasn’t always been situated there. Originally, it was just up the road at Airman’s Corner, the site of an early military aviation accident on 5 July 1912.
One night, in the midst of World War II, four soldiers were on an instructional course shortly before D-Day. Sir Michael W. S. Bruce, one of the four soldiers, wrote to the Evening Standard in 1953 to tell the story.
The soldiers were up on exercise on the plains, heading by jeep towards Stonehenge. Something happened next that they have never been able to explain. Driving along, they witnessed a tiny aircraft fly over them at an incredibly low height. They watched in horror as it crashed straight into a copse of trees along the side of the road. They separated and raced ahead into the trees to find the scene of the crash, but there was nothing to be seen. No aircraft flying south, no noise and no sign of an accident. Just the trees standing quietly, as they always had done. The men were miffed. Where was the plane they had just seen crash land?
It was then that the warrant officer called to his men from elsewhere in the woods. He was standing, as white as a sheet, at the spot where the plane appeared to disappear. There, he had come across a large stone cairn. On this stone was inscribed some wording commemorating the deaths of the first-ever members of the Royal Flying Corps to die on duty back in 1912: Captain Eustace Loraine and Staff Sergeant Richard Wilson.
Let’s stick with stories from our reliable witnesses and hear about an admittedly unverified story from 1971 about a group of hippy campers who decided to pitch their tents within the stone circle. This was the year before the levitation incident, and remember, it was back in a time when access to the stones was completely unrestricted.
One particular night, an intense thunderstorm blew across Salisbury Plains. It was quite the storm, apparently, and lightning came out of the sky, striking local trees and even the sarsen stones themselves. An eerie blue light illuminated the stone circle, so intense that two witnesses who happened to be up there at the time, a policeman and a farmer, were forced to look away.
The story goes that there was this incredibly large bang along with the bright flash they could not look at. They heard the group of hippies screaming and ran to their assistance, but when they got there, all that was left was a smouldering campfire and smoking tent pegs. Even the tents were gone. And the group of campers? They were never seen again.
There is some suggestion that if this event did indeed occur, it may be that the energy of the storm, combined with the power of the fourteen ley lines crisscrossing this magical ancient monument, had somehow managed to create some sort of vortex. If this is the case, I cannot even begin to comprehend where that unlucky group of people have ended up. We will never really know!
The Hurricane of 1987
There’s another anecdote regarding extreme weather, told by Brian Davison, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Stonehenge, in 1987. It’s not a ghost story, but it does feed into the stories that exist, telling of the magic and power of this stone circle. Apparently, that year, a group of University of Bristol students were up at Stonehenge doing some petrological research into the bluestones.
They were joking about the alleged power of the henge and laughing about any ill-tidings, bad luck, or curses that may occur as a result of them ‘taking’ bits of the magical stones. While they were joking, there was a bit of apprehension nonetheless.
‘Even if people don’t see us, God will, and we’ll be struck down, just like the disappearing hippies!’ they laughed.
They finished their work around 9pm and although the wind was picking up, they were relieved to head off with nothing having happened. ‘See! It’s all rubbish!’ they declared with a sigh of relief.
That was the night of the great hurricane of 1987! Brian Davison says of the night that he can’t help but wonder if it was down to the students and their sample-taking, and they may have upset some of the ancient spirits in the area!
There are many stories of strange lights and the like from Stonehenge. There are also quite a few videos online, but it’s always worth remembering that the armed forces are quite often up around the area on exercise. Flairs, helicopters, and the like are not uncommon in this area, even if they don’t come near the stones themselves. It’s just something to be aware of.
This next story is about a potential UFO (or UAP, as we are now supposed to call them) sighting. This was told to me in the summer of 2022. It was whispered in hushed tones up at Stonehenge itself because it was, and still is, very much a story under wraps due to the potential media storm it will cause when the videos emerge. And I am promised they will, when the time is right! I can disclose that two separate videos exist, taken during the pandemic when the stones were very much off-limits and completely deserted.
The witnesses were security guards once again. They were up at the stones during a shift, and all was quiet, at least until a weird blob of light was seen to come floating towards the stones. It was initially shaped, perhaps like a weather balloon, but then it shapeshifted. Little spikes of light come and go from the blob, and it changes direction, floats above the stones, and then just disappears off again.
They took videos of the event, and it is said that you can tell they were clearly very scared of what they were seeing. The witnesses are highly credible, and their experience affected them greatly. That’s all I can say for now! Hopefully, at some point in the near future, these videos will come into the public domain, and you can all have a look for yourself.
There are many stories of strange lights and the like from Stonehenge. There are also quite a few videos online, but it’s worth remembering that the armed forces are quite often up around the area on exercise. Flairs, helicopters, and the like are not uncommon in this area, even if they don’t come near the stones themselves. It’s just something to be aware of. However, anyone working or living up that way will be completely familiar with the different army manoeuvres, the lights and sounds they create, and when they are happening. They would definitely be able to spot something out of the ordinary.
The Stonehenge stories don’t end there…
Today, we have only covered the sightings of people working up at and around Stonehenge. But there have been many other strange occurrences in and around this ancient site. Small, child-sized apparitions were moving around the sarsen stones. The ghost of a dog guards Doghill Barrow, an ancient burial ground nearby. Elementals and guardian animals of the henge. There are a couple of accounts of a bigfoot-type creature being seen by different witnesses in the local fields. Even I was involved in a bizarre astral projection situation up there.
Maybe I will return to Spooky Isles one day soon and tell you in more detail about more of the strange sights of Stonehenge. There are plenty! But then, that’s to be expected in Weird Wiltshire.
Tell us your thoughts on this article in the comments section!
EMMA HEARD is a freelance writer and creator of Weird Wiltshire, a blog about the strange and unusual in Wiltshire. Join Emma on her quest to explore and share stories of ghosts and the paranormal, folklore, history, and anything weird from Wiltshire and the world beyond. You can follow her on Twitter @WeirdWiltsBlog