Stonehenge, the world’s most famous circle of rocks.
Archaeologists believe it was constructed in multiple stages between 3000 and 1500 BCE, but nobody really understands how it was actually built.
By all accounts the challenges presented by the massive weights and distances involved should have been impossible for the builders’ primitive tools to overcome.
Adding to the mystery, we’re still not sure exactly why they embarked on such an epic undertaking in the first place.
Was Stonehenge a Druidic temple? A burial site? An astronomical observatory? An interstellar navigation marker planted by some alien race?
There’s evidence pointing to each of these (well, except maybe that last one!), but we’ll likely never know for sure.
Because it’s now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors must stay on a path that circles wide around the structure. We learned that if you’re a practicing Druid, however, you can walk freely amongst the stones during the one night each year that it’s opened for a religious ceremony… which immediately tripled my interest in spirituality.
Stonehenge is surrounded in almost every direction by green pastures dotted with grazing sheep. It’s a beautifully peaceful environment… if you discount all the tourists and ignore the main road bisecting one of the fields neighboring the stones.
It’s a bit of an eyesore (although there’s a rumor that the road will eventually be diverted into a tunnel to restore the area’s natural tranquility), but for now if you’re loathe to pay the fee you can opt to view Stonehenge through a chain-link fence.
Seen in person, Stonehenge is definitely impressive, and the setting is undeniably beautiful.
I think it’s the age that gets me most, though; I get shivers thinking about ancient travelers passing through this area literally thousands of years ago looking up to see very much the same view as I do today… and probably being even more confused about what these huge rocks were doing standing up on the plains.