The long-awaited Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre opens today, 18 December. For the first time, visitors will have a proper introduction to one of the world’s most important prehistoric monuments – set within the landscape looked after by the National Trust.

Visitors will be able to see original key-objects used in its construction and those connected with Neolithic and Bronze Age men and women, their lives, their rituals and daily struggles. The reconstructed face of a 5,500 year-old man buried in a long barrow 1.5 miles from Stonehenge – the most advanced reconstruction of a Neolithic man’s face to date – is certainly a highlight.

The reconstruction is based on the skeleton of an adult male excavated in 1863 from a long barrow at Winterbourne Stoke, Wiltshire. The facial reconstruction was undertaken by Oscar Nilsson, a leading expert in the field. A copy of the skull, produced by 3D scanning technology, was used as the basis to build up layers of facial muscles and detail.

Furthermore, visitors of the Stonehenge Center will have the chance to see important objects, never shown together before, that tell the story of the changing understanding of Stonehenge over centuries: two rare 14th-century manuscripts which are among the earliest known drawings of the monument, Roman coins and jewellery, early surveying equipment etc.

Also, a 360-degree virtual experience, based on state-of-the-art laser scan images of the stone circle, will transport the viewer back in time through the millennia and enable them to experience the summer and winter solstices.