Stonehenge, Great Britain (visited in 2014)
In 2014 I had the privilege of being invited to attend a leadership study abroad trip to Oxford, England (more about that in a later post). While in Great Britain, I was able to visit the site of one of the world’s greatest historical mysteries: Stonehenge in Salisbury, England. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and striking places I have ever been to. The mystery behind this monument looms over the stones like a sleepy silence and it makes you realize that the world is bigger than just you; it is a place full of mystery, wonder, and adventure and Stonehenge embodies all of it.
In case you are not very familiar with Stonehenge, here are a few facts that I learned during my visit: *
- Stonehenge is a massive structure of “standing stones”, which can be found across many parts of Europe.
- Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world.
- No one really knows the true purpose of the standing stones. There are many theories or conspiracies that guess at the site’s origins and purpose, but the truth is still a mystery to both archaeologists and the general public.
- It predates the Vikings, Romans, and the Celts and was built in the transition time between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age (around 4,500 years ago).
- Some of the theories of its origin include: a memorial for the Britons who were killed by invading Saxons, Merlin (the wizard) conjured the stones from a site in Ireland called the Giant’s Ring, and it was the site of a Druid temple.
- The main axis of the stones is aligned upon the solstitial axis, so midsummer (to frame the rising sun) and midwinter (to frame the setting sun) solstices were important to the builders.
- Some of the biggest stones in the structure weigh, on average, 25 tons and stand up to 30 ft/9 meters tall!
- The remains of the monument include two main stone types: bluestone and sarsen sandstone. The smaller Stonehenge stones, the bluestones, carry the most mystery because they are foreign to southern England so their origin is unknown.
- This sacred area undergoes nearly constant change: the stones were erected in different phases.
- Charles Darwin researched earthworms at Stonehenge.
*facts checked by: http://www.livescience.com/22427-stonehenge-facts.html, http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history/description/#, and http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-should-know-about-stonehenge*
Fun Fact: Stonehenge celebrates its 30th anniversary as a World Heritage site in 2016.
Literature Recommendations: Due to the mystery surrounding standing stones, Stonehenge and other similar structures frequently appear in fictional literature as well as nonfiction. Some of the most popular or famous fictional stories surrounding Stonehenge are found in Arthurian legends: stories of King Arthur. (see: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Histories of the Kings of Brition”).
Other popular fictional works surrounding standing stones included Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series which is centered around a woman named Claire who is transported back in time due to standing stones in Scotland.
Nonfiction- There is also a multitude on nonfictional works that surround Stonehenge and can be easily found on the internet or at your local library.
I hope you all found this information interesting and, hopefully, it inspired you to do some further research on your own. Thanks for reading!
** All pictures were taken by me!**
#stonehenge #england #greatbritain