Unhinged at Stonehenge

A super quick one today (what?? what??), but it's about one of the ancient wonders of the world, so I reckon that makes up for it a bit. 
Stonehenge is just a pitstop on the way between Bath and London, so it was an easy decision to make the detour.

We were lucky - there was this huge modern complex where the tours left off from and I think they'd only just finished it. 

So you get your little audioguide, get on a bus, rumble along a country road for about 10 minutes, get off, follow a little path around the thing and then get back on the bus where you are, of course, directed straight into the gift shop where they sell things like T-shirts that say, "Stonehenge rocks!" 

Miserable bloody day (weather-wise), but ah well. At least you know you're in England. 

If you haven't been, likely the only photos you've ever seen are all bright and transcendent with sunbeams filtering through the ancient crevices etc etc so today is your lucky day! 

'Cos you're getting the grey and muddy version.

Beauty! Transcendence! 

Thar she blows. 

So the audioguide wasn't really as...plentiful as one might expect. This is because aside from a few basic facts about the Stonehenge, all the knowledge gained over hundreds of years by the world's scientific and archaeological community can essentially be summed up with a collective shrug. 

It was kind of like,

They built it here because of this...maybe.

The stones are made out of this and came from this quarry 30km away...we guess.

They got the stones here by this method...probably.

As for why they built it and what they did with frickin' clue. 

But here are our theories!

You enigmatic minx, you. 

The one thing they DID know for a fact was that it was not, contrary to popular opinion, built or used by the Druids (there's also no evidence of sacrifices of any kind). They can actually date the rocks and they are way too old for Druid times, but the average person still seems to think of Druids as soon as Stonehenge is mentioned, which I could tell even from the audioguide was still earning collective exasperated tuts from the scientific and archaeological community.

It's kind of bigger than you think it is - they're at least 3 or so metres tall. There are also purpose-built troughs built around the Stonehenge. Why? See above. 
Fun fact: a henge is technically a circle of stones set in one of those troughs...because there's one around it but it's not in it, it's actually not really a henge. Maybe we should just call it Stone. 

See this rock here. This is a cool rock. 

The sun aligns with it at both the summer and winter solstices and it used to have a parter and a top like some in the Stonehenge still do (there are actual fancy names for that, the scientists and archaeologists don't call them "partners" and "tops") but it...actually I don't know what happened to it. I can't have died or disintegrated. Maybe someone took it. Stonehenge Scandal. 

So you can see how it's collapsed over time, as well as the big cement pillar people have used to prop it up a bit.
It's also important to remember that this is a ruin - it probably looks as much as it did 3,000 years ago as the stones we saw in Bath look like the ancient Roman Temple they used to be. 

Kind of success.

Also, (what a great photo-followed-with-fun-fact post this is) one of the most interesting aspects of the whole thing I found is the huge scale of the operation that was necessary to build it. If the quarry where they got the stones from was over 30km away imagine the people, time and effort it would have taken to roll them across the countryside, the contraptions to invent, build, hew, shape, measure, place them properly and erect them ('cos remember they all frame the sun) AND the support crew: people to build all the tools, make ropes, hunt, cook food, dig toilets (maybe, idk how Druids went to the bathroom I'm kidding scientific and archaeological community calm down) as well as people to organise and lead it all. People unlikely would have gone to all this trouble just to make a pretty circle with which to tell the time so it was clearly an important cultural, ceremonial and/or religious site.

But they still have no frickin' idea. 

Could get quite close to it, really. Shiny. 

Laters, rocks. 

See: big modern thing. 

The best part of the whole thing was this: as we were leaving along the highway to London, we turned to our left and...there it was!

Awesome. Didn't need to do the whole bus-audioguide-pay $30 thing at all!

Until next time... 

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