Visiting Stonehenge was part of my bucket list series. Read the entire list here.
One of my oldest bucket list items was crossed off this past Christmas. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated with ancient architecture and have always had a quirky love for alien conspiracies. I first learned about Stonehenge in elementary school, and coupled with my love for Princess Diana and British accents, this knowledge sparked an obsession with England and everything in it.
It is one of my greatest joys that I’ve spent so much time in London since I moved to Europe in 2016 and I wish more than anything that I could go back in time to show my younger self where I’ve been. My goal for 2018 was to see more of England so when my family planned a trip to Cornwall for Christmas, I was ecstatic. On the drive there, we got stuck in traffic and looked to see Stonehenge laid out ahead of us. My dad didn’t want to stop but this moment sparked in me a sudden rush of excitement and reminded me of my bucket list and the fact that Stonehenge has been on it even before I ever thought to make a list in the first place.
After a wonderful week with family in Port Isaac, Michael and I hit the road early in the morning and headed back to London. Luckily, the route we took lead us straight to Stonehenge, which was a perfect little moment of fate.
Driving on the English countryside with it’s green pastures, expanse of sheep, and winding roads was beautiful (and terrifying), but during the entire drive we were giddy and excited. The moment we drove into the parking lot, with Stonehenge just up ahead, that excitement intensified and we were giggling like schoolgirls.
I know it may sound silly to be excited over what are, essentially, glorified ancient rocks, but Michael and I are both fascinated by that kind of thing.
When you get there, you have to pay a £5 parking fee in cash, which we didn’t have so the lady let us through with a wink. They recommend that you buy tickets ahead of time online, as they only have an allotted amount of walk-up tickets to sell. Thankfully, it was a freezing, windy winters day just after Christmas, so, though the online tickets were sold out, they had plenty of walk-ups left over.
Once you get your tickets (which are £18 per person, or free if you have a membership with English Heritage), you take a free shuttle bus that’s about a 5 minute drive to Stonehenge. You’re there in what feels like seconds and I have to tell you, the view is even more breathtaking in person.
However, as I mentioned, it was a cold and windy UK day and since Stonehenge is surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of green, the wind felt harsher and more bitter than it did before we got on the bus. I’m sure it would be even better during the summer, when the UK is warmer and less bleak. However, it’s probably way more crowded so maybe it would be best to book in advance. You can pre-book tickets here
We spent about 20 minutes staring at the formation in awe, reading the plaques that tell a story of it’s long and mysterious history. I was a bit upset that there was no mention that theorists think the stones were placed by aliens– because yes, it’s just a crazy theory but it’s a very popular one that deserves attention. You can read some of the more interesting theories here. Though I’m not sure I believe any of it, I think it’s important to research those theories in order to get a full picture of information about the majestic and mysterious monument.
Regardless of who (or what) built it, Stonehenge is one of the most architecturally sophisticated rock formations in the world. The interlocking joints are a technique that are unseen in any other prehistoric monument and the fact that they have been standing, untouched, for centuries seems like nothing more than magic.
One of the more disturbing things I learned was that Stonehenge may be home to a mass burial ground. 3,000 year old bones that were discovered there suggest that it was once used for burying and cremating the dead in the Neolithic era. Why was it used as a grave? Was it a place used for sacrifices? We may never know. Standing there and soaking in that fact sent shivers up my spine and I was sure it wasn’t just because of the cold.
My favorite fact about Stonehenge is it’s connection to the stars. No one has ever been able to figure out it’s exact usage, I love that Stonehenge is considered one of the first astronomical calculators despite this. You can read a bit more about what astronomers have hypothesized about how the formation was used here.
Before we left to scavenge the gift shop and continue our journey to London, we took a moment to just take it all in. It’s a powerhouse of beauty and for a moment, we forgot where we were, forgot about the cold and the wind, and we felt starstruck.
When the light hits Stonehenge just right, it truly feels like you’re staring at a piece of an unknown universe, at a moment of time that has been frozen in history.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and I’m so happy that we stumbled upon it by accident on our drive home. However, I’m not sure how worth it would be to take a tour bus from London just to see Stonehenge. Then again, I don’t like doing anything on anyone else’s time so if a tour bus seems up your alley, do it. However, if you have a car like we did, I would definitely say it’s 100% worth it to make the drive for a visit.
Ultimate Bucket List Item #74, crossed off the list.
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