We zoomed right after class to Waterloo station to make the hour & half journey to Salisbury: location of the ever mysterious, intriguing, and alluring Stonehenge. It was a great train ride over and the small town of Salisbury is the picturesque small English town. From the train station we made our way to the town center so some of us could find an ATM. Tensions in our group were a bit high for some small reasons(tired, everyone thinks their directions are right, it was hot outside, ATM machines weren’t working). I guess sometimes the small things add up after a while. It’s common for groups to get a slightly irritated every now and then. Since we’ve been with each other for the past 6 weeks maybe slight aggravation was due. From there we took a bus to Stonehenge and drove through some small, tree covered roads. And we all managed to get there in one piece.
I’m glad they decided to put the exhibition/visitor center/parking lots away from Stonehenge itself. Those elements would ruin the beauty and de-mystify it. From there we took a small 10 minute shuttle (though you do have the option to walk) to Stonehenge. And there it was the iconic image: a pile of rocks in a wide open field… The cynicism disappears when you see it in person. It almost became like a piece of art when I saw it. It has a hypnotizing peace, almost an eerie calmness, when you walk around it. So much so that we decided to ditch our audio tour guides for a while, just sit and chill out for a bit. Maybe the peace was from getting out of the hectic city of London and into the countryside. Hills are all over the surrounding location and hay bales as far as they eye can see. The sun was shining and the wind blew as we people watched the tourists that were from all over. The Asians, the Europeans, the North Americans, and some South Americans, they were all there. It is strange how this pile of rocks has fascinated, baffled, and allured scientists, historians, archaeologists, and regular people for years.
There are always the tourists that stand out among the rest. There was a woman who brought a Kermit the Frog doll with her and was taking pictures of it. Additionally there was this young, heavy girl who was loudly and obnoxiously roaming the grounds. She spoke with an American accent so someone from the group went to inquire the state she was from. She responded, “I’m from Texas, make sense-don’t it?” Then she proceeded to point to her younger brother, “Look Bob another rock.” She clearly had no interest in Stonehenge and decided to be loud. And we wonder why America gets the reputation it does. All joking aside it was good to see another American in an international swarm. I was wrong when I thought we left the crows behind at the tower of London. Crows were scattered throughout the whole place hovering, flying, and eating. The jet-black crows bring a sense of mystery and spookiness this place full of riddles.Experts still don’t know the true purpose of Stonehenge and who exactly built it because of a lot of intelligent yet differentiating debate. Theories range from a calendar to burial place to religious ritual center to gathering place of an ancient civilization. And of course there’s always those who take it to the extreme and say aliens constructed it. It’s been established that it wasn’t used to perform human sacrifice. That myth came from a rock nearby which oozes a natural reddish element when it rains. The reddish color was thought to be blood but as science and time progressed it proved wrong. Additionally it has been established that the druids and pagans did not build it. Though they claim it as their own, the structure greatly outdates the beginning of those “religions.” Druids and pagans will actually be gathering in droves there this Saturday because it will be summer solstice (usually June 21). The druids and pagans will come dressed in full garb to perform their annual ritual. The sun somehow aligns perfectly with Stonehenge on the summer and winter solstices. That is why intellectuals think it was used as a calendar and shows they had a sophisticated knowledge of the sun.
As our time in London is rapidly reaching its end I debated whether it would be worth it to go see a bunch of aligned stones. I thought I wouldn’t get anything out of it because I do not find anything interesting about prehistoric times, “cave men”, or obscure ancient, ancient civilizations. But then I thought I would be an idiot for not visiting an international identifiable icon which the world is constantly fascinated by. And I’m glad we did take the time to go, not only for the sake of visiting Stonehenge but catching a glimpse into some of England’s beautiful countryside. We waited at a bus stop to bring us back to town. We to the stop a ½ hour early and didn’t mind because before us was wide fields of wheat and poppies. After we left Stonehenge the bus took us back to the main town through some small road and we saw iconic English pastoral scenes. Rolling hills, grazing cows and lambs, and different colored fields made the ride back beautiful. There is no sense that Stonehenge has lost its charm through mass tourism due to its position and preservation in a wide open field. It’s rare for a commercialized site to keep its authenticity and composure. For that I am truly grateful & maybe that’s why it’s considered one of the marvels of the ancient world. ***The picture of the Crows at Stonehenge is from: http://ztbigtrip.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/stonehenge.html More pictures below