The aged P’s were around for the summer holidays so we went off on many staycations. This was the first stop. I had seen Stonehenge few times before but this was the first time that I got close enough with my proper camera. It was a nice day if a bit cloudy. Living in England unfortunately means that any day it doesn't rain means its a nice day.
You park the car, buy the tickets and then enter into a short tunnel which takes you under the road to the site proper. The side walls of the tunnel have large murals showing how it was constructed. Pulling the giant stones with human labour, using levers, logs, slick mud and other Neolithic technology artefacts. For anybody who wants to read more about this fantastic structure, the wiki entry provides a good overview of the story of this monument. For me, I was looking at this as a time traveller. Very fortunately, almost everybody was wearing audio headsets which were giving the story of the monument and there was not that much conversation. All I could hear was the susurration of the traffic from the road in the distance and the sound of the rather brisk wind rustling over the grass.
This is an ancient cremation and burial site and the monument has been under construction over 1500 years. I was standing there thinking about this timeframe. While in Egypt, I tried to do the same with Saqqara and failed miserably. Over here, I am seeing a bunch of stones, look at the circular ditch (can you see the raised banks?) and trying to think of what I have seen in my travels which can equate to something that has been constantly rebuilt over say 100 years. I cant think of a single thing. Cemeteries, statues, national parliament buildings, the Parthenon, the Pyramids, the Coliseum, the Blue Mosque, Great Zimbabwe, St. Peter’s nothing. Nothing is close enough to this time frame. imagine constructing this for 1500 years.
I walked around the stones, you cant get close to them, you are separated from them by a circular rope around the stones. But you get the feeling of great antiquity. Of great patience, of ceremonies carried out. The stones are aligned to the sun, so for example, you can see the sun rising over a particular stone on Summer Solstice. The stones are aligned with the rising and setting sun. It reminded me of the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt where the inner temple would be illuminated by the sun on just two days of the year and the Sun Temple of Konark which is also aligned with the tracks of the sun. Some of these stones were quarried over 400 kilometres away, then brought down by boat/rafts and then pulled by sheer human strength to this place. No idea why, nobody knows why.There are theories, but nobody knows for certain. And by the way, the Druids had nothing to do with this, this was 1000 years before the Druids.
The stone with a face. Well, at least it looked like a face to me. Can you make it out? there is a winking eye, a sunken eye socket on the left, a low ridge with an exposed nostril and then a blob for a mouth. Reminded me of the bog bodies found around Europe. Here’s an example photograph of the man himself. A bit later than when Stonehenge started getting constructed but you get the antiquity idea. I can imagine myself creating stories of how giants created the stone circle and one fell asleep against the stone and then the goddess got upset and then pulled him into the stone and as a warning to others, showed his face on the face of the stone.
An isolated baby stone. Looked a bit lost.
Another view of the ditch around the stones.
These are large stones, as you can see from the size of the humans behind the stones, some of them weight up to 5-10 tons.
Fascinating alignment, the stone on the right had eroded away and was given support some decades back.
View from the east side.
A pretty fair number of helicopters were flying around, can you see the little image between the stones?
This is the heel stone. Looks like a moray eel head, no? I first saw these suckers while diving in the red sea off Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Ugly scary looking creatures. So when I first saw the stone, it looked like a head of a giant misshapen pitted head of a giant eel out of your nightmares.
See? heavily pitted stone. I couldn't lean over and touch it. I know it sounds silly, but i feel a connection when I touch stones. I know, I am nuts.
Another full view of the stones. One estimate of the number of hours taken to bring the stones from Wales and erect them is a gobsmacking 30 million hours. Go figure.
There is the face stone again from the other side. No? I can still see the stone face.
The sacrificial stone. Supposedly this was used to sacrifice human victims to whichever gods they worshipped. And I got to take a photographs of a raven landing on the stone. (more on the slideshow).
I looked back at the circle of stone and I could hear them talk. Not in a language that I could understand or appreciate, but they were talking. They have stood here for millennia and will keep on standing for many more. No more burials or cremation for many many centuries but our ancestors sweated bled and died for this temple. All I could do was to gaze at this structure wonderingly. What magical things man does for his gods.
Here is the slideshow with more photographs and bigger resolutions.