Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.
Stonehenge - Not Just Rocks in the Ground
STONEHENGE, WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND - There are those places that you have always dreamed of seeing, imagining they are bigger than life, grander than grand, and more mysterious than the most mysterious mysteries of all time. Such is Stonehenge. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see it.
I traveled to see Stonehenge as part of a day tour outside of London while on a short trip to England. Time was of the essence in seeing some of the more well known historical sites and a tour would get me to the most sites in one day. So, off we went on a big bus through the English countryside. First we headed toward Windsor to see the castle, and maybe the Queen for afternoon tea, then on to the ancient Roman Baths in Bath, and finally, the grand finale of the day, Stonehenge. Windsor Castle was historical, massive and very impressive. The Roman Baths were seeped in rich history. And then there was Stonehenge.
The bus parked in a large gravel lot and we walked through an underpass to the other side of the road where we encountered the most mysterious of mysterious of ruins, Stonehenge. There it stood in all its’ glory, massive stones in a prehistoric circle. A circle of rock pillars upright in the ground, jutting toward the heavens, topped with the few cross beams that remain after all this time. The largest of the stone is estimated at 25 tons.
What was this site used for and by who? Why did they pick this particular location? How did they get the stones here and into those upright positions? How was it possible to lift the crossbeams into position? So many unanswered questions that even after visiting the site in person, were still to be unanswered.
Construction of this now designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to have begun in 3100 BC. There are many myths and theories around the purpose of the site, as there are no written records. It continues to be a subject of debate. Some think it is an agricultural calendar that provided timing for spring planting. Others suppose it was a temple or place for religious and spiritual practices of the ancients. Still others theorize it was a burial ground, as human bones have been found dating as early as 3000 BC. Truth be told, no one knows for sure.
Visitors were not allowed to walk among or touch the stones. There was a paved pathway that circled around the structure. Now, let me say that spending time at this mysterious pre-historic site would have been an interesting experience. 'Would have' is key. I was in England right before the Olympics were to be held in London and the plan was for the runner carrying the eternal flame was to run past Stonehenge for the opening ceremonies. In order to light up Stonehenge as a backdrop, a wrought iron art installation had been put all around the stones to provide illumination. Talk about diffusing a special moment. I was finally getting to see Stonehenge in person, a place of ongoing supposition and the subject of much discussion as to origin and use, only to see it surrounded by rusty wrought iron ‘art’.
We only stayed for a short time, as the stone formation and distant countryside was the only thing to see, and then climbed back onto the bus for our return trip to London.
The mystery of Stonehenge remained after my short time there. No answers to the questions of the centuries about this ancient site were discovered during my visit. The only thing that I was sure of after seeing Stonehenge on this particular day was that it is a travesty to place rusty wrought iron ‘art’ around a possibly sacred Neolithic structure...for whatever reason.
One of the wonders of the world this giant stone puzzle built by neolithic ancestors keeps everyone guessing as the purpose of the structure.