The sky is grey but it isn't very cold and we don't need to wear a coat. Excellent weather to do things. This weekend there are several archeological workshops at different prehistoric sites and when we drive to the Salisbury Plains we soon come upon one.
Just past Avon we arrive at Woodhenge, a place like Stonehenge, only trees were used to form a circle instead of stones. Its size must have been as large as Stonehenge, but all trees have gone and poles mark the places where the tree trunks have once stood. At an old settlement not far from Woodhenge an archeological team is busy with excations and show how people in prehistory must have lived of agriculture and hunting.We come across more workshops like this when we drive on and we are surprised how many people have come to visit one of these places. Archeology must be really alive here, and maybe it is not as surprising as we think, since there has been much more preserved in this area than for example in the Netherlands. We have some small cairns but probably our ancestors didn't have more time to build bigger monuments.
After visiting a few archeological teams we finally drive on to Stonehenge. From a distance it looks overwhelming, even more impressive than from nearby, but that might be caused by the perspective from the road. And from afar we can also see the crowds walking around the monument. We thought the holiday was over!?
I have been here once before, in 1984, and then it was still possible to walk between the stones and touch them. But then there were only about 30 people walking around, now there must be hundreds of them or even more, since the parking lot (used to be quite small then) is full of large tourist busses. I can't remember that we had to pay an entrance fee in 1984 (probably I was too excited to notice) but I did work the twig here (and you bet that it became wild on this place!) indeed. The fee is now £ 5,50, but it costs a lot of money to preserve this huge monument and we think it is worth it. And with so many visitors, every day again, we can understand that people are not allowed to walk between the stones anymore.
A picture of Stonehenge with only one tourist on it, unique nowadays. At the summer solstice this year there were 21,000 visitors! The audioguide is available in several languages, also in Dutch which is very easy. It takes us quite some time to walk around Stonehenge and view it from all angles.We won't further go into the history of Stonehenge and all theories about its purpose; on the internet you will find anything you want to know. But despite all theories Stonehenge keeps its mystery since there is not one super-theory yet, explaining the whole structure. And now we are talking about just one monument that has been well-preserved. Imagine that the Avebury stone circle (almost 10x as big) had been totally preserved, that would have given a lot of mysteries! For whatever reason, practical (agriculture), religious (astrology, astronomy) they build it, our ancestors found it important enough to carry out such immense projects in a time that survival was taking up most of the time.
We only show a few pictures here. If you want to see more, just email us, we have 31 in total.
We are still impressed when we drive to Salisbury, although Elisabeth can't help to say that Stonehenge obviously cannot be compared with the anciet Egyptian buildings and of course she is right about that. Still the effort the people put into it, with less knowledge and resources, was no less and maybe even more amazing.There used to be an other cathedral in the nearby town of Old Sarum, which was build around a castle. But the bishop decided it was better to put some distance between the worldly and clerical powers and he build a new cathedral here. As a result all people moved from Old Sarum to this new place which then became Salisbury. It is a nice town to stay for some time and we have lunch there and make a walk through the town.
Then we go to Glastonbury, another must for the lovers of mysterie. Somewhere on the way we see this nice castle of which we forgot to write down the name. We don't make pictures of all castles we see in England (as we do in Scotland), because there are so many. Every town, even every village has some tangible evidence left from history, so it seems.
Our destiny in Glastonbury is the abbey, the place where allegedly the tomb of king Arthur and his wife Guinevere should be. One of the oldest churches of England has stood here and the place has a long and rich history. But if you want to know more about that, just use a search engine on the internet, it is too much information to all tell it here.
The Island of Avalon should also be somewhere around, the place where Arthur waits to arise as some sort of messiah, the once and only king of England, in a time when it is necessary. Well, we think now is a good time to put his ideals on some round table again, the world really needs it! But most Arthur-stories don't take place here in Somerset, but in Devon, Cornwall and Wales.
We drive back through charming little villages, typically English, as you see them sometimes in tv-series, and near Westbury we see another of the 7 white horses of Wiltshire. This one is made in 1778 but rumours tell there used to be another white horse on the rocks that had been visible for centuries.It is quite late when we arrive at the campsite again. It has been a long but very rewarding day and we have seen a lot of interesting places and monuments. Now it is time to take some rest!