Friday 22 May 2009

Stonehenge at Sunset

If you stand with your back to the Heel Stone
at the ancient entrance to Stonehenge
this extraordinary Neolithic monument
does not seem large
under the huge Wiltshire sky.

It is only after you have stepped over the rope
and approached the great Sarsen ring
that you begin to comprehend the size
and complexity of the construction.

Walking under the massive lintel stones
into the inner circle
you feel awed by the vision and organisation
of the community that created this place
6,000 years ago.

Closer still,
you discover the pale patina of lichen
which catches the late evening light.

We were very fortunate to have
a Stonehenge expert,Andrew Lawson,
as our group leader.
His detailed description of the construction
and archaeological excavations was fascinating.

These daggers and axeheads
occur on many of the stones in the inner circle
and were carved into the rocks nearly 4,000 years ago.

Then it was time to be quiet
as the sun began to set.

It is a rare privilege
to be allowed inside the stone circle
and it was an unforgettable experience
to be there at sunset.


blackbird said...

I was just thinking: hey! I thought people cannot get close to the stones.

Thank you so much for this post - don't know when I'll ever see it IRL and so appreciate seeing it through you.

Lynn said...

My brother-in-law recently constructed a mini-Stonehenge of circus peanuts (a hideous pinky-orange squishy candy, in case it's strictly an American phenomenon). It was ever so slightly less majestic than what you showed us...

Anonymous said...

You were so very fortunate to be so close to that most amazing place. I hope I am as lucky one day...

blackbird said...

It's hard for me to imagine it today- standing alone under the vast sky. I thought that it would be crowded with tourists. I would love to see it for myself, in a small group with a knowledgeable guide, away from crowds.

It is still awesome in photographs. thank you, Karen

Unknown said...

and without the usual hordes of people - lucky you :o)

dragonfly said...

What a fantastic opportunity, a privilege indeed. And what a perfect sunset too.

dottycookie said...

I am glad you mentioned the guide, because I nearly choked on my tea when you said you had climbed over the rope.

I'm always surprised how small Stonehenge looks from a distance. Have you been to Avebury? I'm very fond of those stones.

fifi said...

oh, Alice,

that is one of my most favourite places in all the world. Truly.
I almost wept looking at these pictures, for I was never allowed over the rope. I love those stones

Gina said...

How wonderful to be taken up close to the stones with an expert guide. I have fabulous childhood memories of walking right up amongst the stones but was disappointed having to view from afar as an adult.

walter and me said...

Alice, what a wonderful treat...I remember the days when you could go up to the stones, and touch them and get a real feel for them. Awesome.

JuliaB said...

You lucky thing. I have been fortunate enough to be inside the circle a few times (without the hoardes) both at sunrise and sunset. It's a very special place. Walking in the steps of the ancestors heartbeat by heartbeat is just awsome. x

M said...

So, one day, when I finally get to see Stonehenge you'll tell me the secret of getting to step under the ropes... right.

Zoë said...

That brought back memories, I lived nearby as a child, and back then it was OK to walk amongst the stones, and touch them, thus connecting yourself to a millennia of history. Avesbury is equally enchanting, and more accessible.

Mary said...

I remember thinking how small it seemed from the distance.

Now I see how wondrous it is.

Gorgeous photos -

MrM said...

and we saw the Slaughter Stone ...

RW said...

That is amazing.
I can't believe you were inside.

kristina said...

Oh you were so lucky. G and I didn't stop on the way to Cornwall because I just couldn't bear to see it from behind the barriers. So magical! K x

BreadBox said...

How lucky you are!

Ruth said...

Driving down to Cornwall from London once or twice a year we watch the odometer as the numbers click round. Dead on 70 miles STONEHENGE appears before us, seemingly tiny and I am instantly reincarnated as the 6-year old me in the days when anyone at any time just strolled amongst the stones.

monica said...

I've been there 4 times and never so so close..

I'm very envious, regardless of what anyone think of it, it is a truly magical place.

Jackie said...

I once, long ago, had the privilege of seeing the stones at sunrise on midsummers morn...with druids......but it was cloudy.
I know you can't get near it now so how lucky for you to be there.

Fairlie - said...

Many years ago, when I was a 19yo university student doing the obligatory trip to the UK and Europe, my Aunt and Uncle took me to see Stonehenge. It was (purely coincidently) the winter solstice, which apparently was one of the few days of the year that sightseers are allowed right into the stones. That visit made a huge impression on me. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had that experience.

Anonymous said...

Oh how wonderful! One of my favorite places, although I have never been there. Such beautiful pictures. I hope someday to be able to see it with my own eyes.

I have been on a sort of self imposed blog break for a few days, and I missed this....I must catch up!