Vacation rentals in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (holiday rentals, cottages)
Postcard - Stonehenge Rocks
Mary Murphy Hanson (aka Rome Addict) from AZ
Anyone who knows me knows I am into piles of old rocks. Say the words "The Grange in Ireland, Anasazi ruins, Colosseo" and I am so there!! My friend suggested visiting Stonehenge and I immediately thought, "Goody more rocks!"
Stonehenge was built by Neolithic peoples, who dragged these huge monoliths over miles of rocky ground. It was not designed for accessibility so I had no idea what to expect. I envisioned everything from only being able to see it with binoculars to being able to wheel right up to the stones.
True, England is signatory to the European common market treaty regarding access for the disabled. On the other hand, Stonehenge is a world heritage site. So obviously they are not going to pave it over or move the stones just to grant access.
Driving to Stonehenge you cruise a two lane road through rolling English countryside. I was heartbroken to discover I had arrived too late for daffodil season. Wordsworth got daffodils perfectly.
To be in England in the spring and miss daffodils was very sad. But the countryside made up for it with bluebells.
Pheasant and Bluebells
We arrived at Stonehenge on Holiday Sunday afternoon around 1 pm and there was still room in the parking lot. The ticket entrance is across the two lane road from the monument. After getting your ticket you walk through a tunnel going under the road and up a paved path until you get to the monument.
There were amazingly few people for a holiday weekend. The weather was a bit blustery but even a desert rat like me was comfortable in a sweater. So my concern regarding shoving, bumping hordes was unfounded.
As we went up the hill toward the monument a herd of sheep was judiciously grazing. This is what you see first.
Sheep near Stonehenge
You could see for miles of green, rolling, English countryside creating a sense of deep peace. What kept running through my head was Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze."
I was fascinated watching the sheep, laughing at the antics of the lambs and was merrily humming Bach as I rolled along on my scooter.
Suddenly the short hairs on the back of my neck stood up as we crested the knoll. There it was, massive, permanent, a fortress of human achievement and yet somehow ghostly, a mirage. You literally cannot believe your eyes. You see it in documentaries; you see it in the distance driving but being up close changes everything.
I swear I heard ancient drums.
Crows at Stonehenge
Crows are denizens of the monument. Quietly, gliding, circling, riding the spires of air currents, descending to view you, a mere earthbound creature - they are angels or demons watching over the monument. They are so eerie you can almost imagine these same crows watching generations come and go.
Supposedly the big question is “why did ancient man build this?” Looking at the monument you KNOW why it was built. You may not be able to articulate it but there is some primal need that is answered by its very presence. It is mankind saying we were here!
The paved path goes about half way around the monument. If you are up for some “extreme scootering” by driving on the grass you can make a complete circumference of the monument. The ground is bumpy but not so severe you need to worry about tipping over.
Here I am on the grass with my friend’s children who insisted on rides. Trying to keep peace I let them both ride at once. It got a bit crowded.
Three's a Crowd
It was only several days after visiting Stonehenge that I realized Runnymede was an extremely short distance away. We had visited Salisbury cathedral and seen the copy of the Magna Carta but the brain switch that connects dots was evidently turned off that day.
How is it that the absolutely most basic document of democracy and constitutional law started here? I’m betting King John did NOT choose this place to sign. But sign here he did, one of the ultimate achievements of an ancient civilization cheek by jowl with another ultimate achievement of modern man.
There are places in the world that qualify as “holy ground.” Stonehenge is one of them.
Slow Travel Photos: See other photos of Stonehenge, the UK and Ireland
Mary Hanson's Member Page: The articles and trip reports that Mary has published on Slow Travel.
Prehistoric England - Stone Circles, Hill Drawings, Etc: Notes and resources for other stone circles in England.
© Mary Murphy Hanson, 2009
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