I had always been fascinated by Stonehenge as there is so much mystery surrounding it. So when we were in England, I made sure to go and visit it. We drove through the beautiful landscape of county of Wiltshire, 13km north of Salisbury and arrived at Stonehenge. The day was quite sunny , we parked the car and hurried towards the fence surrounding the henge to look at it closely. As we walked along the fence for a while, we couldn’t find the entrance. I had to ask one of the passerby and he showed me the way, which was next to the parking lot. All the people we had seen close to the fence were not planning to go inside so they were just looking at it through the fence.
While doing my research, I found that lots of people were disappointed that they were not allowed to walk among the stones. From what I read they were not happy that they were really far from the stones and but not so with me. I really loved the place.
As there were no queues to go inside, we paid £7.80 per person grabbed a couple of audio guides and walked through a tunnel under the road that separated the parking space from the henge and a staircase to go up to the Stonehenge. The audio guide can play in several languages and can be stopped and started at each point on the tour which worked well and allowed everying to go at their own pace. As it was a warm summer day, the place looked beautiful with this massive field of green grass around the Stonehenge. There were busloads of tourists everywhere and it was a bit crowed but me and my husband just took our time to look around. There was a path around the Stonehenge which had markers with number for the self-guided audio tour.
It was nice to know the history of the place. Around 8,000 BC, as the early humans discovered agriculture and farming, they dug five huge mastholes near what would later be Stonehenge. Today, the Stonehenge parking lot covers the location of those mastholes and the only indication that prehistoric activity once took place at that spot is a round white circle which could very well be confused with a roundabout marker.
In 5,000 years, the early human civilizations advanced and developed. They became nomads, conquerors, architects and sculptors. They developed communities oriented around farming and hunting, domesticated ancient cows and buffalo, and wandered far across the earth to gather materials and equipment to celebrate their faith and beliefs. And, it is around this time that the prehistoric humans in England discovered the circle. Just as the ancient Egyptian monuments were mostly triangular and pyramidal, the henges are primarily circular or oval.
So, what is a henge? A henge is identified by a circular ditch with an internal bank, with or without monuments in the center. There are hundreds of henges scattered across England but the most famous are the ones in the Salisbury area.
Stonehenge was the centre of ancient Britain, according to a study which claims the monument symbolised the unification of eastern and western communities. A new study by researchers from five British universities suggests Stonehenge may in fact have been built as a sign of peace between people from the east and west of the country after a period of conflict.
The stones, which come from different locations as far afield as southern England and west Wales, may have been used to represent the ancestors of some of Britain’s earliest farming communities, researchers suggest.
As we follow the path when we got to the area where we could see the stone from closest point on the path, it looked amazing and I can’t even imagine how people thought of making something so massive. Stonehenge looked different from different angles and it still seemed so mysterious with its grand presence.
As we continue to circle around Stonehenge, we came across a large stone called the Heel stone. It is a 16 feet long tertiary sandstone.
After we finish our walk around Stonehenge, we stopped in front of the exit and looked at it again. It feels as if I was looking at a piece of history which is so mysterious and at the same time so beautiful.
Here are some facts of Stonehenge.
- Stonehenge was built between 3100 – 1100 BCE.
- The circle was aligned with the midsummer sunrise, the midwinter sunset, and the most southerly rising and northerly setting of the moon.
- The ground plan and structural engineering of Stonehenge incorporate sophisticated mathematical and geometrical understandings on the part of its builders.
- There were two types of stones used in its construction: the ‘bluestones’ (weighing as much as four tons and brought from 240 miles away) and the Sarsen stones (averaging eighteen feet in height and twenty-five tons in weight).
- It has been estimated that the construction of Stonehenge required more than thirty million hours of labour.
- More than nine hundred stone rings exist in the British Isles. Of these, Stonehenge is the most well-known.
- The megalithic monuments of Britain and Europe predate those of the eastern Mediterranean, Egyptian, Mycenaean and Greek cultures.
- The Druids had nothing to do with the construction of the stone rings. Druids are known to have conducted their ritual activities mostly in sacred forest groves.