Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stonehenge part 2

Without a gprs connection I am reluctant to go online just to check my previous blog post, so zi shall continue from here.

Once we entered the subway via the ticket booth, we crossed under the road that passes within 500 metres of the stones; it is not the main A303 but a smaller but still quite busy road. Worth stopping for, after the booth, is a stand that allows you to pick up a complementary wand that gives an audio tour of the site. As first time visitors it was well worth carrying the wand and activating it when we saw numbered discs; it acted as a reminder about things we had forgotten about the site.

My first impression once we crossed to the site was how small the stones seemed. Second was the number of different nationalities that were around us, but this would be because of the relatively tight circle that the visitor path takes around the stones.

From the approach to the 1/2 metre high token rope barrier around the stones the site takes on a different impression. The day was fine, a slight breeze and a blue sky with a scattering of cumulo nimbus clouds. As I moved along the path the weight of history pressed heavy on me. I thought about the massive numbers of people who must have laboured for so long to create the site, along with it's sister site known as Woodhenge; a people who would have laboured hard to sustain themselves but devoted time and valuable energy to creating something that did not,in itself produce food or shelter or warmth. I know, you say that in a religious context the site is likely to have been central to the existence of all these things, the belief structure around cycle of life and death; in this as in other ways there is a direct link between the now and then.

But back to the corporeal. Apparently the stones would have stood higher originally but even now, at something like two or three times my height, it is impressive. The transporting of the stones alone makes one stop and think; I have felt for years that the common man failed to appreciate the sophistication of pre-hitoric people, I still carry misconceptions from what I learnt from textbooks when at school over 25 years ago. Ancient peoples the world over laboured with the materials available at the time and pushed the envelope of what could be done with it. From the stone built homes such as at Skarra Brae in the Shetlands to Matchu Pichu in Peru, the materials were used in all sorts of ways to make life more than just bearable. Stonework is a good example of where the skills of ancient peoples surpass those of this age. Part of the march to our current age involves a shift from an individuals reliance on their own abilities to those of the community. Survival of people, in the Western hemisphere, relies on the work of massively dispersed communities; also, as we have increased what people can achieve in a given space of time we have moved the responsibility for the achievement more onto the tools than the man. I am not saying that the production of tools was not specialised even in prehistory, there are lots of examples of sites whose reason for existence seem to be as tool factories, but a person's ability to survive lay more in their own and the family unit's abilities, than a wider community. Enough on my speculations, (I have no qualifications in this field, as you could probably tell), but I have all these thoughts buzzing through my head and a desperate need to set them down somewhere. It's just an example of how the site fired up my brain.

In a nutshell, as people say, Stonehenge is well worth a viisit. The site has a few seats that you can use to extend your stay and fully contemplate this world heritage site. If one cannot or is not willing to part with the entry fee, lower prices available for children and pensioners, you can get a view of the stones by walking around the outside of the site but through a 2.5 metre high wire fence.

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who is getting an inkling of what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for the NHS. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]

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