There is a definitely a love/hate relationship when it comes to Stonehenge. For some, it is merely a pile of rocks in a field. For others, it is an engineering and historic marvel shrouded in mystery. I find myself somewhere in the middle.
Getting To Stonehenge
If Stonehenge is the only location on your itinerary for the day, getting there from London is a little tricky. Stonehenge is literally in the middle of nowhere with Salisbury being the closet city (8 miles). I would personally recommend a rental car but if that’s not an option you can take a train to Salisbury and a bus from there.
The difficulty of getting to Stonehenge is another reason why I opted for the three part day tour. The tour bus takes you directly there and you don’t feel as if you’ve wasted an entire day driving out there and back.
Stonehenge, A History
Much of Stonehenge remains a mystery. The first structure, made primarily of wood, is thought to be about 7000 years old (5000 B.C.). Archaeologists have dated the current stone structure anywhere from 3000 to 2000 B.C. The huge time frame confirms just how little we actually know.
Many theories exist as to how and why Stonehenge was built. The most popular being that it is a Temple to honor a sun god, given its precise alignment with the summer and winter equinoxes. In fact, the measurements are so precise for these two particular dates, scientists and archaeologists aren’t quite sure how it was accomplished.
There have been many burial sites found nearby as well as other smaller monuments.
To build Stonehenge, the workers had to drag the larger stones (25 tons) some 20 miles over the countryside using logs as rollers and ropes as pulleys.
The smaller stones (2-5 tons) were believed to be transported from Wales, some 150 miles away. It is believed that the ancient builders used a combination of land and sea to transport the stones. However the mode of transportation, it is quite evident that this monument meant quite a lot to these people to go through such trouble to make it.
Once the stones were on location, they were carved and shaped using stone tools. This would’ve been very labor and time intensive to make sure each stone was uniform and aligned correctly. From there, the stones were positioned upright by digging holes and pulling the stones into them. Then a pulley system was used to pull them upright and the holes filled in around them.
After all the larger stones were upright the smaller stones were positioned on top. When completed, the structure would have formed a perfect circle with an altar in the middle.
As previously stated, reactions to Stonehenge will be mixed. I’m glad I went and saw Stonehenge and the history is very intriguing but, in my opinion, this does not constitute a full day trip to go see. If visiting from London, combine Stonehenge with other sites such as the Roman Baths or Windsor Castle or both.
With that said, Stonehenge is an engineering marvel from long ago and the mysteries as to how and why this structure was built might very well remain lost in time.