Sunday, 5 June 2016

Rolling back time at Stonehenge


While I love my adventures around the world, when I have a weekend free it can be just as fun unearthing those gems in my own backyard. To kick off this new blog series about fantastic places to visit around the UK I am taking you waaaaayyyyy, waaayyyy back in time to one of most famous wonders of the ancient world, a place filled with myth and mystery - Stonehenge.


4,500 years ago ancient man painstakingly transported and raised a huge stone structure in the middle of a field in South West England. The reason why remains a complete mystery which has captured the imagination of generations ever since.

Whether a visit to this place captures your imagination too is very much down to your expectations and perspective. Some people were undoubtedly disappointed as they expected to be able to be right next to the structure (this simply isn't feasible any more on a daily basis as there was serious erosion caused by visitors touching, climbing or even stealing bits of the monument - yep all of you who have a bit of Stonehenge on your shelf are to blame!), or they expect it to be bigger or flashier (it's not Disneyworld folks!)

However the more that you know the story behind Stonehenge, the more you fall under its spell. For example some of the stones were transported 150 miles and others weighed as much as 6 elephants each. This is at a time before the invention of wheel, when those that built the monument had to literally drag the stones to their current location, shape them by hitting stone on stone (as there were no tools), before hoisting the horizontal stones atop the vertical ones. No wonder it took 1500 years to build. All that effort is surely reason enough to be a teeny bit impressed?








Then there is all the mystery surrounding its purpose. Nobody really knows for sure why it was built, but of course this just means that everyone has a theory. One theory beloved by sci-fi geeks is that it is a landing pod built by aliens and that's why crop circles are often found nearby. Of all the places on earth that they could go, why aliens would choose to holiday in a field in Wiltshire is perhaps the greatest mystery.




The earliest picture of Stonehenge from a 12th Century manuscript has fueled another theory that Merlin instructed giants to build the monument. I've added my own bit to this theory that these giants were chased out of England and now only live mountainous areas of the world and are known as Yetis or Sasquatch. Brilliant right???






The reality is probably a little closer to home, but no less intriguing. Human and animal remains indicate at one point it was used quite creepily for ritual sacrifice (personally this makes me like the giant theory even more). 

The placement of the rocks which lines up with the sunrise during the summer and winter solstice also indicate it was also used as a giant celestial calendar.  

It also almost certainly seems to have been a giant burial ground as it is surrounded by round mounds (where VIPs were buried with their possessions and enough food and water to transport them to the afterlife) and long barrows or burial chambers housing the bones of hundreds of ordinary folks. The idea was to return the bones of ancestors to the earth, ready for re-birth. 

And on a more upbeat note new evidence suggests that it was a famous pilgrimage site where people would travel vast distances in order to soak up its healing powers (given this is before Facebook and any form of transport, how folks across Europe heard about Stonehenge and were then able to make the journey is pretty amazing in itself).

As you can see Stonehenge worked its magic on me. If you want to visit and see if it has the same effect on you, the cheapest way to visit is probably by car as it's just 2hours outside London but you can also travel by train to Salisbury and then a bus to Stonehenge, or by one of the many tourist buses direct from London. Entry costs £15.50 and you can pay extra for an audio guide or download the tour guide app to your iPhone.

So enjoy both the history and the mystery and make your way to Stonehenge pronto.

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3 comments

  1. Stonehenge is a very interesting manmade structure and I love all the mystery about how and why it was built. I actually got to visit Stonehenge back in Uni, but at that point they had a big queue going around the entire structure, so it was impossible to get a nice photo without having tourists in the background. I also was actually relatively surprised that the structure was smaller than I had thought in my mind, but still very interesting!

    Rae | Love from Berlin

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  2. Thanks for the comment Rae. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too. I think it helps the time of day you visit and the day of the week. I was probably very lucky. Just checked out your blog and thought it was great. Looking forward to reading future posts.

    Betsy

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  3. Lovely post as usual ! when did you go ? I would love to one day. X

    http://allornothing-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

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