I FINALLY made it to Stonehenge ~ it’s been on my “travel must-do” list for many, many years. There are more questions than answers regarding the reason Stonehenge was built. Lots of speculation but no definitive answers. The explanations for it being built range from “temple for human sacrifice” to “astronomy.” Due to the alignment of the stones, worship to lunar and solar beings is most likely (a Druid Temple). The circle is aligned with the midsummer sunrise, the midwinter sunset, and the most southerly rising and northerly setting of the moon.
More is known about the construction of Stonehenge. The original Stonehenge was a large earthwork or Henge which began about 3,100 BC. It consists of a ditch, bank, and the Aubrey holes. Aubrey holes refers to a ring of 56 mysterious circular cavities at Stonehenge and named after John Aubrey who discovered and recorded them in 1666.
The second stage of Stonehenge is thought to have occurred in 2150 BC. According to the Stonehenge website,82 bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in SW Wales were dragged to Milford Haven and then loaded onto rafts. These 4 ton stones were taken by water down the coast and then up the rivers Avon and Frome. They were then dragged overland again to outside Warminster in Wiltshire. Then, the final journey was mainly by water, down the river Wylye to Salisbury, then from Salisbury Avon river to west Amesbury. In all, it was about 240 miles.
The third stage: The outer circle was built around 2100 BC using Sarsen stones, which were from the Avebury area located about 25 miles north of Stonehenge. Some of these stones weigh 50 tons but the average weight is 25 tons. These stones couldn’t be transported by water so they had to use sleds. It is thought that it would have taken 500 men using leather ropes to pull one stone.
The final changes took place around 1500 BC when the bluestones were rearranged in a horseshoe and circle that is what we see today. Originally, there were around 60 stones in the bluestone circle but these were removed or broken up long ago. A few stumps are below ground level.
Experts estimate it took over 30 million working hours to built Stonehenge. Whew ~ I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Years ago visitors were allowed to walk amongst the stones but, due to the ever-increasing number of tourists, it was fenced off in 1978. Currently, there’s a walkway around the stone structure which still allows a very close up view. There is a parking area within easy walking distance to the stones but a new visitor’s center is being built and, once that is completed, visitors will have to take a shuttle to the site. English Heritage manages the area and hopefully they will continue to protect and preserve it. There is a charge to enter the area (or you can peek in for free through the fence). If you plan to go, click here for all the latest rates and information.
Surrounding Stonehenge is the beautiful English countryside with the yellow fields in bloom and, of course, sheep.
After Stonehenge, we visited a lovely English town called Sturminster Newton (Dorset County). To me, the town was quintessentially English with its thatched roof homes, narrow roads, old graveyards, stone fences, cute shops/pubs, etc.
This was an interesting wall ~ didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the town but interesting nonetheless.
At the local church, the minister happened to be outside greeting people as they came up for an event. I enjoyed walking around this quaint town and it reminded me that, as much as I love living in Central London, it’s so nice to get out to the countryside for a reprieve from the hustle and bustle.