Friday, April 1, 2016

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK - Anglophile Friday


When you first arrive at the Stonehenge stone circle site from the bus, it's a bit of a surprise to look across an expanse of what looks like pasture land and see a circle of stones that look smaller than you were expecting.

Okay, I know this has probably offended the entire British population (because they all read my blog), but it's not the size of these stones that is necessarily impressive, when you remember that they didn't just emerge from the soil as you see them today, but were imported from other areas...a long time ago.

The outer stones, the bluestones, weigh around 4 tons each and the inner sarcen stones weigh in at anywhere from 6 to 50 tons each.



Don't get me wrong. They are huge. In the photo above you can get an idea of size in relation to the people moving about nearby. But I was mostly impressed with what I learned about the when,  where and how of Stonehenge.


I think everyone's first questions are:


When did they do this?
Where did they get these huge boulders?
How did they do this?
Can I zoom in on the sheep in the nearby pasture? 


Stonehenge is believed to have been completed in three phases over the course of 1500 years, beginning in 3000 BC. 

From www.stone-circles.org.uk (All excerpts in quotation marks are from this site): 

 "Begun in the late Neolithic, a circular bank nearly 2 metres high and 6 metres wide and with an internal diameter of 85 metres was built with chalk quarried from an outer ditch, the bright white fresh chalk contrasting vividly against the surrounding grassland."



It is believed that the bluestones, the outer stones, were moved from SW Wales about 135 miles from their present site.


"One theory is that they would have been hauled from the mountains to Milford Haven and then loaded onto rafts and brought along the Welsh coast to the Severn estuary, then along the Bristol Avon and the River Frome, via the Wiltshire Avon before being offloaded to the banks of the river. From here they were brought overland to Stonehenge - a total journey distance of 250 miles. The Altar Stone, a block of micaceous sandstone, is thought to have originated from the Brecon Beacons area of south Wales. The opposing theory is that a mixture of stone from west Wales was moved eastwards by glaciation during one of the Ice Ages to be deposited around the Salisbury Plain area as the ice sheets retreated. The builders of Stonehenge then simply used sources of stone that were most readily available, the bluestone that already existed in the Salisbury Plain area."

Which seems most likely to you? I'm going with B. (We can do this because there's a lot about Stonehenge that's not set in stone.)

They think that the larger sarcen stones (sarcen sandstone) were brought from the Marlborough Downs, 25 miles north of the present site.

 Heel Stone
They think that originally there were two of these, directly between which
the sun would line up on a midsummer day.


"Roughly cut to shape before moving, these huge blocks weighing between 6 and 50 tons each may have been placed on sledges and dragged over rollers or temporary trackways to Stonehenge. It is estimated that it would have taken a team of 1000 men 7 weeks to move each stone, the whole mammoth task requiring over 10 years to complete."

At the beginning of the article, and before the stones of Stonehenge were erected, there were remains of oxen found in the location, so I'm not sure why they think that 1000 men rather than oxen were used to sledge these stones from one location to another, and sledges seems impossible anyway. The rollers or even wheels? seem more plausible. Do scientists know there were not wheels used? 


"To create the Sarsen Circle pits of about 1.5 metres deep were cut in a 30 metre diameter circle and the blocks tipped into them then pulled upright and their tops leveled, but with a protruding tenon to receive the lintels. These lintels had mortises on their undersides to fit the uprights and tongue-and-groove joints to bind them to their neighbours as well as a slight curve along their outer edges."

That was news to me, and a relief to know that the horizontal stones aren't going anywhere.

There are still debates as to the reason for the stone circle.

 Wattle and daub thatched house recreations on the site.

Some tools, cloth, pots, and a central fire which was appreciated by us
on that cold March morning!







Mr. C. examining the textiles





Is that Yoda?

The disappointing thing about Stonehenge is that the site of the actual stones is roped off so that you can't get up close. Another time I would go to Avebury, where, I understand, one can walk with the sheep among the circle of stones, have a picnic, and actually get up close and personal with the stones.





A display outside the visitors' center
Teacher's question: 'Children, did they move them like this?'
Kids' question: 'Can we climb on it?'


 Heel Stone (again)
(Kind of how I picture Lot's wife, actually.)

Greeting us at Stonehenge
I think it was the Easter Bunny.


For more (and better information) on Stonehenge, please see the website I've excerpted above, Stone Circles. It's very interesting reading. And please don't hold this shoddy blog post against me. I'll try to do better next time.



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Have a great weekend, everyone!


Judy

36 comments:

Terri D said...

The stone circles have always interested me, and even more so after reading the Outlander series of books and watching the TV shows (season 2 coming next weekend!). I've heard from others that it is disappointing that you can't get close to the stones at Stonehenge. What a shame. I enjoyed your post!

shortybear said...

awesome pictures.

TexWisGirl said...

i can totally understand why the site needs to be protected - or they'd end up like cadillac ranch - sprayed with graffiti or knocked over. loved your 'zoom in on sheep' remark. :)

Elizabethd said...

It is an amazing place, and I agree, at first sight somehow you expect a more towering collection of stones. There are many similar circles and lines in Brittany.

Jenny Woolf said...

I know they were going to make Stonehenge more visitor accessible but not sure if they have done it yet. Avebury is mind boggling and I hope you get there. I read a book about 15 years ago about the construction of Avebury, and it was perfectly fascinating. It isn't just moving those rocks all the way that amazes me, it's the fact they did it with pretty well no technology. Like, they didn't have rope in those days. I think they had to make it out of leather. Well, imagine pulling those rocks with leather. I think the tracks probably weren't good enough for wheels even if they had wheels, but if I am not mistaken, stonehenge dates from before the wheel was discovered anyhow. At least with a sledge you wouldn't have little wheels breaking all over the place or catching on stones and ruts in the tracks. . I wonder if they did use oxen. It would have taken a huge number. perhaps they had more people than oxen, animals were so valuable in those days maybe they couldn't spare them.

It's a different world, such a different world. I'm glad you posted, it reminds me to re-read my Avebury book again which is really descriptive and informative.

Karen S. said...

I know exactly what you mean about arriving there for the first time. I think it really stands out to us, because for years we've viewed just the stones and I always had such an impression of quite a different surroundings than what it is. I am so thankful that I finally got there too! Your photos are wonderful to see!

Cranberry Morning said...

I did wonder if people were considered more expendable than oxen. Entirely possible. I also forgot to mention that i think we sometimes sell them short, thinking they weren't as intelligent as we are. I think they were every bit as intelligent, perhaps moreso, but like you said, didn't have the tools. Today huge slabs of marble are helicoptered in to virtually inaccessible places for homes of the wealthy. Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful comments.

Mildred said...

I loved your photos. Don't think I will ever see it in person.

Wishing you and yours a nice weekend.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

I love your post today, Judy! Of course I do...sigh...England it is in my soul. My ancestors are from Wiltshire. I long to go back to England and just explore this area. These folks were so smart--just think they were able to build cathedrals with just simple tools. They figured out simple physics. Of course Stonehenge is way before the building of cathedrals. Thank you for another look at England. xo ♥

Terra Hangen said...

The theories on Stonehenge keep changing but the stones remain. Years ago on vacation in the UK my husband and I rented a new camper van and were fortunate to camp overnight on the road near Stonehenge, so we saw it at sunset and sunrise, a beautiful sight. We live in California now, but the memories remain and the stones stand.

Tired Teacher said...

Stonehenge and Easter Island are two sites I'd love to visit, and two sites that will always be mysterious to scientist and the common man.

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

Simply a wonderful post, CM, beautifully told and illustrated. I particularly appreciated that there's a lot of Stonehenge that's not set in stone. It is, of course, a special place. I can remember visiting it centuries ago when entry was via a kissing-gate and you paid some bloke sitting in a wooden kiosk. Last time I went, it was like IKEA on a wet Saturday. You're absolutely right about Avebury - and I prefer it - but it doesn't have the precision of Stonehenge.

NanaDiana said...

Stonehenge has always fascinated me. I am so glad that you were able to see it in person. I didn't realize that it was all roped off though. I suppose generations of people taking souvenir 'chips' has taken its toll.

I have always assumed they harvested the muscle power of animals to help them in the hauling process. I am NOT sure that was the Easter bunny though...I thought he came from EASTER ISLAND---but that idea is not 'set in stone' either.

Happy April 1st. xo Diana

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

This is a cool post on a fascinating subject. Did you miss the Alien connection theory? The History station likes THAT one, lol.

Why in the heck did they move those stones there!!

Lowcarb team member said...

My favourite photo is the second one ...although the Easter Bunny is so cute !

It's a few years that I went to see Stonehenge, but your post has lots of information. Although yes, there is still much we don't really understand / know for sure.

Have a lovely weekend

All the best Jan

The Furry Gnome said...

One of the world's most inteigung places, along with the stone circles in Ireland and Scotland, which are older.

Margaret Adamson said...

An interesting post and the stones are very impressive. I have never seen themin person. Have a wonderful weekend.

Vee said...

Shoddy post? Goodness, you are hard on yourself. More information in this post than I ever had heretofore. (Not that I am fascinated by this iconic collection of massive stones, but you managed to make it interesting even for me. I doubt it was the cold, dry facts; more the wit behind the words.) I am quite shocked that one is not able to visit them up close anymore. Have a good weekend, Judy!

Sandra said...

love the bunny and the photo with Yoda in it, i like the perspective of the path and the stones. slaves is how all the kings in the old Testament built everything, so i am thinking it was slaves. i would be sad to not get closer to, but you still got good photos of these monster stones...

Marcia said...

I'd love to get there one day. Thanks for the info.

Pamela Gordon said...

Very interesting Judy. So fascinating as to how and why this was built. I have a photo of my Dad taken with Stonehenge in the background when he was there during WW1. Thanks for sharing. Your photos are excellent.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

I find Stonehenge mesmerizing, but it might be because I live in an area where we have many sacred "stood stones".

handmade by amalia said...

Loved this post, so interesting and full of history. And it brought back memories! Though my first thought when getting of the bus was 'how did I find myself on the same bus as these people.'
Amalia
xo

ladyfi said...

I remember going to Stonehenge on a school trip... Wish I'd realized how amazing it was. Great shots!

Susie said...

Judy, This is an amazing sight. I think things are at risk with vandals now. So sad. Thank you for showing this. xoxo,Susie

Sara - My Woodland Garden said...

Hello, Judy! It was very interesting to see your photos and to read your thoughts about this amazing place. I wonder if its secrets will ever be revealed.
Thank you very much for sharing! Have a lovely new week!

Lynne said...

Amazing indeed to think how the stone was moved and placed . . .
Certainly not how we would be doing it today.
I am equally amazed when I visit New Grange in Ireland . . .
Great post Judy . . .

Small City Scenes said...

It is amazing how the stones got there and equally amazing are the numerous theories and the theories of what they mean. Beautiful shots. and yes the Heel Stone does remind one of Lot's wife. Exciting trip you took.
MB

eileeninmd said...

Hello, what a great post! LOL, sheep, Yoda and the circle of BIG stones. Seriously, I would love to see Stonehenge is person. It is a cool place. I am glad it is roped off and protected. The bunny is adorable too. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

It is an interesting post Judy on a subject that has baffled experts for years. I thought I read somewhere that the stones go well below the surface too. A mysterious place for sure.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How interesting. I've read quite a bit about them over the years and it's always intriguing. How neat to actually get to see them in person. Enjoy your week sweet lady! Hugs, Diane

Debby Ray said...

Stonehenge just mesmerizes me and I would love to see it some day...although it is doubtful that I will. The info you shared certainly is interesting and I often wonder how this and any monumental landmarks were created. It is quite mind boggling to say the least! Thanks for sharing your amazing photos!

Mary Cromer said...

Absolutely beautiful and fascinating...what a journey this would be. I believe you are right, the Easter bunny...so sweet~

Donna said...

I have always been fascinated by Stonehenge and hope to see it in person one day...thanks for sharing!

Donna@GardensEyeView
and LivingFromHappiness

Sylvia said...

Judy, I enjoyed your photos and details about Stonehenge. I love the little houses with thatched roofs. Thanks for sharing. Sylvia D.

ann said...

I really enjoyed your journey to Stonehenge. It brought back the memories of our trip in 2001 as I toured England with a group of university students. Stonehenge was not originally on the itinerary, but it was subbed to replace another cathedral. We had seen enough churches. I visited the day before the Summer Solstice, so it was a bit of a zoo. Never in my life had I ever dreamed that I would see Stonehenge; in 2006 we returned again. What disappointed me was the path. While I understand the need for a path, I so wanted to touch and feel. None the less, it is an exciting place and the opportunity to get there was a bucket list item, if I had a bucket list. Loved this post.

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