Tag Archives: World Heritage Site
The day started off very smoothly: we caught the underground back to Heathrow and picked up our rental car without a hitch. Patrick is an AMAZING driver. You should think about driving a car with the steering wheel on the right side of the car, and then driving on the left side of the road, and then going through a roundabout in traffic. When you add Amber’s navigation to the mix you get a great pair!
We headed east from London and within just a very few minutes we were out in the country. I’ve got to tell you – the open fields and skies felt great! It drizzled on us as we drove for a bit, but no big deal.
Our rental car is a Ford Mondeo and is pretty sweet. Huge trunk, four doors, A/C, automatic everything. It does however have a very strange front windshield. When driving you can kind of see a grid of little fine wires in it? And for some reason, later in the day all the little squares of glass started showing and the windshield got all wavy. We’ve really got to figure it out – it was very disconcerting!
Our first goal of the day (after working our way out of London traffic) was to head for Avebury. This is part of a World Heritage site that also includes Stonehenge. The two are about an hour apart. We found our way to Avebury very easily and it was quite interesting. It’s 16 times larger than Stonehenge but was a little bit disappointing? It was a series of many large stones, vaguely arranged in circles, strewn throughout sheep fields. You entered the fields through latched gates and then you were free to climb on the stone, lean on them, touch them, etc. – you just had to watch out for sheep poop! We wandered around for quite a while, had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant near the stones, and then headed south for the town of Salisbury.
We thought that our B&B for the night was near Salisbury (more on that later) so we tried to find the famous Salisbury Cathedral first. It’s an interesting cathedral because the spire is just over 400 feet tall and you can see it from far away – but getting to it is another story. It seemed as though all the streets were one-way, going away from the cathedral. Parking was almost non-existent too. We finally did find a parking garage that was only going to be open one more hour (it was Sunday), so Patrick drove in, parked, and we hoofed it to the cathedral. Wow – it was super worth it too. What a great cathedral! The interior was amazing too – so I’m hoping some of the 51 pictures I took there came out well.
Next it was on to our B&B – and it ends up it was about 15 miles east of Salisbury. We arrived, got settled in (tiny rooms!) and headed out for dinner. After dinner we drove back north for Stonehenge. I’m glad it was a Sunday as there was very light traffic in Salisbury.
We’d paid extra to have access to the Inner Circle of Stonehenge. Only 26 people are allowed inside at a time, for 60 minutes. Typical tourists have to stay on a paved path about 20 feet from the stones. Our scheduled time was 7:45 – 8:45. We got there early and even from the parking lot it was amazing. The parking lot was interesting too – it was almost vacant! We were in the last group allowed to enter Stonehenge so it was very much like a private showing.
Amber was SO EXCITED once we were allowed to enter she almost ran through the tunnel that goes under the road and on into Stonehenge. She was the first one in our group to enter! I went crazy and only took 173 pictures of Stonehenge.
Here is a lot of the typical information you read about Stonehenge:
- Archaeologists believe that the stone monument was erected anywhere from 3000 BC to 2200 BC. Scholars believe that Stonehenge once stood as a magnificent complete monument. This cannot be proved as around half of the stones that should be present are missing, and many of the assumed stone sockets have never been found.
- The tallest stone is 7.3m high and weighs over 45 tons. It is one of the 5 sarsen Trilithons. The sarsen circle was originally composed of 30 uprights (each weighing about 25 tons) capped by horizontal lintels (about 7 tons). The bluestones, weighing up to 4 tons each, came from the Preseli Hills in Wales, some 240km away.
- In 2007/2008 there were 887,000 visitors to Stonehenge excluding the Solstice and including free education visits and stone circle access). (I’m sure they’ll top a million this year.) About 50% are from overseas, 30% are part of a group and 5% are education visitors. More than 70% of the education visitors are from overseas. During just the Summer Solstice in 2008 30,000 people visited Stonehenge.
I found it interesting how Stonehenge is situated. It’s kind of near the top of a plain, on grassy ground with no trees or shrubs or anything around. I understand that’s because of the soil in the area – there’s virtually none. The area is mostly chalk with a thin layer of soil on top – hence no trees, etc. But Stonehenge just sits there! In America it would be surrounded with search lights, Burger Kings, and t-shirt vendors. Here – bam! There it is. I think it’s all the more impressive because of this.
We wandered around the stones for our full hour. Even though it was cool and windy – who cared!? We had been very worried about the weather too – first it was going to rain, then it was going to be cloudy and maybe rain. This was our once-in-a-lifetime visit and we’d paid extra for “good seats”. But by the time we got in the skies parted and we had a glorious sunset. We could not have asked for better weather.
We walked back to our car and left Stonehenge as darkness settled, smiling all the way back to our B&B.