***Sadly, these are the only 4 surviving photos I have of Stonehenge now. Somehow, someway, all photos from England (sans Dover) were lost, falling victim to the blackhole called time.***
Mystical, infamous, perplexing Stonehenge. One of my top favorite places, this is one of the most talked about, photographed, and well-known sites in the entire world. You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know about this place (although I wouldn’t be surprised if younger generations didn’t know; I’ve talked to 20-year-olds who didn’t know what the Salem Witch Trials were… no lie). Stonehenge is one of the “Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages”, alongside the Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Great Wall of China. If you know the history of Stonehenge, along with seeing it with your own eyes, you’ll understand exactly why it made this list.
Researchers and experts still don’t have a definitive answer to how or why Stonehenge was built. Theories range all over the place, and some popular ones are: place for healing, ancient observatory, concert hall, “team-building exercise” (love that one), burial place, place of worship, giants built it (seriously), and my personal favorite, ancient aliens built it as a landing pad and/or provided the technology to humans to build it. These theories have had such a long shelf life because A) even in 2018, nobody knows for sure why it was built, and B) they don’t know how it was built. So, these crack-pot theories are just as valid as any. Most of the stones currently at Stonehenge weigh around 25 tons. To put that in more visual terms, an average pickup truck weighs around 2 tons, so imagine trying to move something as heavy as 8 F150s. And do this back in 3000 B.C. It’s no wonder all the alien theories have been able to hold on for so long.
To add to the mystery, most scholars believe that the stones (bluestones) in the inner ring come from a place that’s 160 miles away (in Wales), and the stones in the outer ring, the Sarsen stones, come from 20 to 30 miles away. It’s incredibly perplexing to try to figure out how people who lived 3000 years before Jesus Christ moved such massive and heavy stones for that many miles, then got them to stand up, and THEN put a few on top of the others. All of this occurred without modern machinery or knowledge of physics.
Located in the countryside near Salisbury, at Salisbury SP4 7DE, United Kingdom, its open daily from 9:30am to 5pm. We visited Stonehenge via a tour that we booked at the concierge’s desk of our hotel, with a company called Golden Tours. It was an all-day tour to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath. I’m going to be honest, the tour is a bit pricey; currently around $168 per person. We went in 2010, so I’m assuming the price has gone up (I can’t remember how much we paid back then). It may seem a steep price but as tours like this go, it’s average. This company no longer offers Salisbury Cathedral tours, I’m not sure why; but they’ve changed to Windsor Castle (which, in my opinion, is a good substitute). The tour started super early, like 6:30 am, and that’s because they schlepped us in a van for an hour all over London picking up other passengers. They then dumped everyone at Victoria Station, where we were herded onto our respective tour buses. Our bus was one of those giant tour buses, and it was old, stuffy, and packed, mainly with Japanese tourists. I guess these tours are popular with people from Japan because we were given a long introduction in English, and then again in Japanese, and they also had their own guide.
Before we left London for Stonehenge, my stepfather and brother tried to talk me out of going (still can’t believe that). Both had already seen Stonehenge (go figure), and this would be my mom’s 3rd (!!) visit. I distinctly remember their exact words: “It’s only a pile of rocks”. Well, there was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to miss this “pile of rocks”, and luckily my mom understood better than them. It’s breathtaking to be in a place so revered, so mystifying, so talked about; and to witness it with your own eyes. I’ve read those annoying articles on Facebook, “Popular Tourist Spots that Disappoint in Real Life”, and I’ve seen Stonehenge on the list — it’s a bunch of malarkey. However, I must be honest; there were some downsides: you can no longer walk through the stones or even near them due to preservation reasons, it can feel a tad crowded but I think that’s to be expected in a place like this, and lastly, there are bugs. Little black beetles fly all over you and it’s disgusting. Stonehenge sits in a field, way off in the English countryside, so it’s very rural, and there’s really nothing that can be done. Also, if you go during the summer like we did (June), expect it to be humid. I never knew how freaking humid England was until I went there, but being that it’s technically an island, the humidity is REAL.
I would jump at the chance to visit Stonehenge again. We got roughly 40 minutes to meander about, and while that may seem like enough time on paper, it doesn’t feel like enough when you’re there. Plus, since that time I’ve read many articles and watched many documentaries on Stonehenge, so I’d love to go back and visit with the knowledge I now have. As someone who’s traveled, the best advice I can give to people is: read up as much as possible on the places you’re going to. This may seem like common sense, but people younger than the age of 25 sometimes lack common sense (I know I did!).