Once upon a Friday, it was a beautiful sunny day and we decided to swing by Stonehenge (click here to find out more about prices, times and information) on a road trip across the country. Apparently, half the population had the same idea to go along and see Stonehenge as well. The stones are awe-inspiring and massive. You can just sense the history behind them. That's what I love most about this part of the world is that it is steeped in a history you can't find in New Zealand.
I got the obligatory tourist photo in front of the stones to prove I didn't download my photos from the internet. One was enough though. There were several Ravens (or crows, I get mixed up because they look the same to me) hanging around. One was perched on one of the stones all like, 'Yo, see me touching this stone? You can't, suckers'. He (or she) did look quite majestic sitting up on top of these wondrous stones with the clouds forming above it. Even if I was a touch jealous.
Some big ole stones
It is hard to believe that the stones have been in place for 4,500 years and had to be transported on crude wooden sledges with the help of 200 men pulling them for miles and miles. Quite a feat really. The other thing that amazed me was how accurately the stones were placed and are still accurate with the lining up of the sun.
Stonehenge has a special little something something about it. From the actual stones themselves, the sheer size of them, the history of them to the other parts that I knew less about. Such as the ditches and the barrows. I didn't know much about Stonehenge before I went along. Just that they were really big stones that had some sort of significance.
I'm a go in with eyes wide open kind of gal. I like to learn as I go and make my own assumptions about things without any preconceived ideas. Not always the best way to be but seems to mostly work. Though I am reading 'London' by Edward Rutherfurd at the moment. That has made me hungry to explore London in depth
A big ole grumpy stone
You can wander all the way around the outside of the stones - not too close, however, the rope makes sure of that. We came across the heel stone. It's an isolated stone standing off to the side and it looks none too happy about not being included in the circle of cool stones. Literally. It actually looks like an angry face carved out of stone. But then I would be angry too if I had to sit on the sidelines for thousands of years.
As we were walking back around the stones I told Rob that I had a desire to jump the ropes and go and touch the stones. He's not a very good friend because he was encouraging me and even said he'd video it for me. I had images of me jumping the rope, touching the stone then security chasing me, me getting tangled in my dress, jandles (flip flops to you non-kiwi peeps) and the rope as I tried to escape and face-planting on the concrete. Headlines would read, 'Kiwi woman gets deported after touching stones'. If there were fewer people around I probably would have, to be honest. The urge was real.
Getting our moolah worth
We then wanted to get our money's worth (Stonehenge is not the cheapest tourist attraction out) so we went for a wander to see if we could see the Stonehenge Cursus. Which was essentially a large rectangular ditch dug in the ground a few thousand years ago. We couldn't see it. Instead, we ended up on some mounds which were the Cursus Barrows, a line of mounds protruding out of the ground like man-made hills. We stood on one and took a selfie of Stonehenge behind us. If I tippy toed a little bit it looked like I was wearing Stonehenge as a hat. Unfortunately that was the only shot we got. I looked like a crazed woman concentrating with a Stonehenge hat. Which in all fairness is an accurate photo.
Lil ole houses
To further our mission of getting the most for our money we saw the little neolithic houses by the visitor centre. They were super cute. I could quite happily take up residence in one, they have everything you need in them apart from a fridge stocked with wine, chocolate and bread. But I'm sure that could be arranged. We were in one hut and this really creepy man was taking photos of two American women (whom he wasn't with). He looked up wondering if he got rained on. I looked up too and saw a little white mouse scrambling amongst the thatched straw and had a little snigger to myself.
Some fun Stonehenge facts. 'coz who doesn't like facts?
- Roman pottery, stone, metal items and coins have been found during various excavations at Stonehenge. Not so many medieval artefacts have been discovered so the conclusion is that Stonehenge wasn't so popular during this period.
- In 1720, Dr Halley used magnetic deviation and the position of the rising sun to estimate the age of Stonehenge. He concluded the date was 460 BC. In 1771, John Smith pondered that the estimated total of 30 sarsen stones multiplied by 12 astrological signs equalled 360 days of the year. While the inner circle represented the lunar month
- In the 1880s, after carrying out some of the first scientifically recorded excavations at the site, Charles Darwin concluded that earthworms were largely to blame for the Stonehenge stones sinking through the soil. Damn worms.
- A legend from the 12th century claimed giants placed the monument on a mountain in Ireland before a wizard named Merlin magically moved the stone circle to England.
- The lighter bluestones weigh about 3,600kg each, while the bigger sarsen stones each weigh 22 tonnes.
- Archaeologists believe that the sarsen stones were hauled to the site on big wooden sledges from 32km away, but the bluestones have been traced to rock outcrops 225km away in Wales. It’s thought they could have been dragged on sledges to a waterway and then floated on rafts to the building site. Another theory is that glaciers carried the stones further down the land in the last ice age.
All in all a worthy tourist trap which I would recommend to anyone else touristy. What's a tourist trap you recommend?
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