Sunday, 20 July 2008

England Part XII - Stonehenge, Wiltshire

I caught a red double decker bus from Salisbury Railway Station to Stonehenge.

Of course, I sat upstairs.... you get a better view from the top, plus it brought back memories of when I rode a double decker every day to school, but that's another story.... and after travelling about 8 miles through the gently rolling fields of Salisbury Plain, I saw my first glimpse of the ancient stones.

One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones.

The standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC

The stones themselves are no longer accessible to the public, but I remember as a child being able to stop by the side of the road and walk into the site, and even climb on the stones.

In Victorian times, it was perfectly acceptable to hire a hammer from the blacksmith in the nearby town of Amesbury and come to Stonehenge to chip bits off the stones to take home as souvenirs! Needless to say, that sort of naughtiness is frowned on today.

Stonehenge was built in several stages. The design enables observation of astronomical phenomena - summer and winter solstices and eclipses. Many of the stones are missing, having been used as building materials over the centuries. Perhaps this is what Stonehenge originally looked like.
My ticket entitled me to an MP3 player that gave me an audio tour of the site, but sometimes it was hard to hear due to a busload of very noisy and enthusiastic Italian tourists who arrived at about the same time as I did.

The sarsen Heel Stone is approximately 16 feet high (4.88m) with another 4 feet (1.22m) buried below ground. It probably stood upright originally.

More pictures and an explanation of the site here. This will tell you all you ever wanted to know about Bluestones, Aubrey Holes, the Sarsen Circle and the Trilithons, the Station Stones, and the Slaughter Stone.
And then you can test how smart you are by taking this quiz.

And I didn't meet a single Druid!
For further posts about my vacation in England, please scroll down.


the Bag Lady said...

I visited Stonehenge in 1976 - we were still allowed to walk in amongst the stones, and it was fascinating.
Lovely photos of your trip.

imac said...

Great post and photos, enjoyed your info - very interesting.

Glad you like my

Neva said...

This is one of the few places I would like to visit in my life time....I am fascinated by these rocks and really...don't you wonder how they got there? It seems impossible and yet...there they are....thanks so much for the links...I loved them....and I am pretty nervous about my daughter traveling but for the next 7 weeks, she is either in a field study program or a home immersion in Spanish program and THEN her girlfriend from New Zealand is going to join her on Sept 5 and they will traverse the country......I have a son in Beijing and one up the street and a daughter that hears "Nature" about a different 3 kids......thanks for you support!!!

dennis said...

Dennis is intrigued by these big stones and people visiting these big stones. Nice pics!

Dennis knows he will flunk the quiz, so why bother?
He bets you did well though.

photowannabe said...

Oh, how I would love to experience those stones. Its fascinating and I will read all that information in a while.
A brief explanation of a picnic caddy. This heavy wrought iron "thing" sits on our patio table and holds knives, forks, spoons in the round containers and napkins and plates go in the side sections. Its very handy when we have company for a BBQ and everyone serves themselves.
I should have explained it in my post. I sometimes forget that we don't all call things by the same name.

dot said...

I've always thought Stonehenge was so interesting. Enjoyed your information and pictures! In Georgia we have the Georgia Guidestones but they are man made and very weird.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

That;s amazing that Victorians were allowed to chip away at Stonhenge!! I'm speechless.

I was there in 1981 and some of it was roped off then. We were supposed to keep to the paths...but there was no one there to make sure you obeyed, which seemed strange.

Katie said...

Wow! Stonehenge is definitely on my list of places to see in my life. Great blog!

Ming the Merciless said...

I remember watching a horror movie as a young kid about witches and warlocks and how they performed human sacrifices at the Stonehenge. It scared me so much that I couldn't sleep for days.

Now you show me these photos! If I get nightmares tonight, it will be your fault. :-)

But seriously, it's amazing how they were able to build those structures without machines over 5000 years ago.

CanadianSwiss said...

Like many others, this would also be a place I'd love to visit. I guess it fascinated just about everybody.

And thanks for the links. I'll check them out tonight at home :)

lorenzothellama said...

Brilliant photos. We used to go there as children because my father fancied himself a bit of a druid! I once did the Neolithic marathon, cross country from Avebury and the view at the finish of Stonehenge was magical! Also it was the end of the marathon!

Oh, and I got nine out of ten questions right in the quiz and some of them were guesses!!

Fizzy said...

hello long time no visit and Iam very sorry. I am thrilled to read that you have been back to England.
I have reinstated my blog - even if it is only for the summer holidays. we will see how I go with it.

Hilary said...

That's a site I'd love to see firsthand. Your wonderful photos have almost made me feel as if I have been there now. :)

Kerri said...

WOW! What a fabulous site to behold! I will probably never get to see this in person...but it's so nice to be able to see it "with" you! Fantastic post!

sonia a.m. said...

Wow! What a great tour! Wonderful reportage! Well done!

And thanks for your visiting on my blog.

Craver Vii said...

And now, I shall do my very best Bob Dylan rendition in honor of your Stonehenge post:

Eeev'rybody must get stoned!

Well, there you have it. Ahem. Good day.

Ash said...

Awesome place and images. Stonehenge is on my list of must-vists in UK :)

Luke said...

Amazing structures! very nice shots of them!

Suldog said...

Great series here. I love England. I've had the pleasure of visiting there (as I recall) six times. Not a bad visit in the bunch!

By the way, you've been tagged.

Libbys Blog said...

ah ha but Avebury is bigger and closer to me! You could have waved!!

Vintage to Victorian said...

I have a carefully engineered photo which my dad took of me appearing to hold up one of the Stonehenge stones when I was about 15.

I drive by Stonehenge periodically - it's not that far from Dairy House and am transported back well over 40 years!

Yes thanks, my rear end is fine now!!


Ginnie said...

When I was there last year, Ex-S, I was in heaven...even though it rained the entire 30 minutes we were there. We walked around the stones on a path...I under my rain coat, holding it up over my head while I took pictures! Thanks for the memory!

June said...

Oh how I'd like to go to Stonehenge and feel the place. It's on my bucket list. Too bad people behaved in such a way as to make it off limits and impossible to touch them...and imagine that they were once considered so mundane as to use them for building materials! Fascinating and it makes me wonder what we have today that will become sacred in future generations. Wonderful post. Thanks so much for sharing.

madretz said...

I'm going! I have to. Hopefully sooner than within 5 years. Cross your fingers.