Mystery, intrigue, legends, and really old rocks.
Close to 5,000 years ago, someone thought it would be a good idea to set up an elaborate rock garden in the middle of the English countryside, for unknown reasons. I told you there'd be mystery and intrigue!
Stonehenge is one of those iconic places that you see photos of growing up and expect the real life version to be not as impressive- you know, like the colosseum in Rome. Maybe it's just me (and all the other travelers around me who stood agape, starting at the ancient stones) but I still had chills when laying eyes upon Stonehenge. We were lucky enough to visit during Winter Solstice in December, which meant many sky-worshipping hippies (for lack of a better term) were camped out for their annual rituals; possibly a throwback to what used to occur here thousands of years ago.
There are many theories on why Stonehenge was built, varying from astronomical tracking to human sacrifice rituals. More common theories believe it was for ceremonial purposes, including burials.
Beyond the mystery of why Stonehenge was created, the "how factor" is hard to overlook. Stonehenge is made up on bluestone and sarsen sandstone. The external wall of those famous "pi" shaped constructions that comes to mind when we think of Stonehenge is sarsen. The weight of the largest sarsen is estimated to be a whopping 40 tons! The smaller stones are a mystery as well, being bluestones from Preseli Hills in south-west Wales. Archeologists estimate that the bluestones would have traveled nearly 200 miles to reach their location in Wiltshire. Did I mention the "little" bluestones are four tons a pop?
Were the stones transported by really buff neolithic men? By a large glacier in the Irish Sea, or perhaps by aliens? If it was by man, we really should all get on that Paleo diet trend cause damn, that would have been some serious strength!
Before arriving at Stonehenge I was mildly aware of the burial mounds of the area, or "barrows"- but did not realize the span they cover! Thousands of barrows are scattered through the plains surrounding Stonehenge. I must admit it was semi-creepy to look at a mound and know there were neolithic bundles of bones inside.
Though Stonehenge is located in the English countryside, it's a completely attainable day-trip from London. If you can cope with driving on the "wrong" side of the road, you can rent a car and head out of the city for a day. Because of its fame, vehicle traffic surrounding the prehistoric monument has been an increasing issue over recent years and there are plans in the works for a tunnel to redirect the volume. Save yourself a headache and consider visiting close to opening hours. If you're not into the DIY driving option, you can take a day tour with a company that offers transportation services from London- we booked ours using Viator. Not all companies are the same, read reviews!
Heading to the countryside is a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of London. Amongst the plains, the great stones rise, and you are transported to another time as you approach the prehistoric monument.
If you have questions about our itinerary, leave them below or send me an email!
BON VOYAGE, BABES!! xoxo