Day 10, Tuesday, July 3, 2018
After we left Bath, we went to an early dinner at the Stonehenge Inn. It was an all-you-can-eat carvery dinner (all-you-can-eat is generally wasted on me since I can’t eat that much but I tried!) with four kinds of meat; ham, pork, beef and turkey, along with veggies and Yorkshire pudding, and ice cream for dessert. I love the big Thanksgiving style meals in England, but I was also craving a salad!
After dinner, it was finally time to see Stonehenge!
Stonehenge was built beginning in 3,100 BC; it was initially a raised circular embankment. It is theorized that the earthen embankment was originally a burial ground, as bones have been found during the excavation. About 300 years later the blue stones were added. Blue stones is a generic term; some of them are igneous dolerite stones. They are believed by most to have been transported by the builders from Preseli Hills, about 150 miles away in Wales. Approximately 600 years after that the sarsen stones were placed. These are the 30 large standing stones, with another 30 stones capping the ring.
More blue stones were added later on, and stones were moved around over the years, although it is unknown why. They stopped using Stonehenge during the Iron Age. I guess it depends on where in the world it is, but the Iron Age in Britain seems to be approximately 550 BC to 800 AD. That’s quite a bit of squish in the knowledge about Stonehenge. Researchers can only speculate on Stonehenge’s purpose; they do believe that it was a place of spiritual significance because the monument lines up with the sun at the winter and summer solstice. Excavations have revealed animal bones that lead researchers to believe that people gathered there in winter.
When we got there, we walked up to the site as a group before getting our pre-viewing briefing, which basically consisted of “Don’t be the jerk who touches the stones.” “If you touch the stones, you will get kicked out and have to go wait on the bus.” “If you touch the stones, everybody else will jeer at you and mock you and throw tomatoes.” “Got it?” It wasn’t quite like that, but that was basically the gist. We were split into two groups and let loose among the stones for 30 minutes for each group. The only drawback of the sunset tour is that when you arrive, the Visitor’s Center is already closed for the day. I would have liked to see that.
While the other group was in the inner circle, we got to wander around the outside.
Standing inside Stonehenge and seeing it up close was incredible. It was a very spiritual experience to see this monument built thousands of years ago, and to wonder what the makers intended it for. The lowering light of the sun was amazing to see on the stones and between them. While it would be cool to see Stonehenge on the solstice, it was nice to be here with so few people (there were about 40 of us on the tour). It was really a bucket list experience, and I’m afraid words can’t really do it justice. The photos will have to do.
Tube Stations: None. We disembarked from the bus on Gloucester Road, which was less than a mile from our hotel, so we walked home from there (you also have the choice to disembark back at the bus station where we left from in the morning).
Costs: Golden Tours day trip to Bath and Stonehenge, with an inner circle sunset viewing – $175 (note: this price is in U.S. dollars), carvery dinner – $15 pounds
Fitbit Steps: 14,022