“It’s a big batch of rocks in a circle.”
That’s how our tour guide started preparing our group to visit Stonehenge during our about two-hour drive out there. She was playing down the historic landmark, and considering the reactions of some of the other students (who thought they’d be bigger), perhaps that was the wisest thing to do.
I, however, have wanted to visit these stones since I’ve heard of them. My love of Celtic mythology (which yes, the Druidic influence theory has been debunked, but that was a big component of how I had fallen in love with them) combined with the rainy mist we were getting made it a brilliant experience.
There was something magical, no pun intended, about being there, seeing these stones that are so steeped in mystery. When the tour guide talked about the various theories as to why they were built (everything from aliens to the Romans), she mentioned that no one really knows why it was built. It made me think of the St. Louis Arch, and how if there ever was a major apocalypse, in two generations, people would wonder about that as well. It also made me think of a book I have called Motel of the Mysteries, which – written as a reaction to the King Tut exhibit that toured the USA in the late ’70s – takes the concept of archaeologists finding a motel in the year 4022, and interpreting all they find there in stereotypical ways.
I could’ve easily spent another hour there listening to the audio tour we had, and made sure to take a moment to just let it all sink in, realizing my place in this world.
We headed over to Windsor Castle next, with part of the group stopping at a pub in the area before the castle for lunch. Alas, the Queen was not on the grounds. Unfortunately, there’s no pictures of the inside of the castle, as there was no photography allowed in St. George’s Cathedral, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House (which some of the detail on the rooms were incredible, like a train set), or the State Apartments. Part of the tour was showing the various defenses of the castle (I made sure to take a picture of one of the arrow slits), and one of the state apartments was the guard room which had some weapons displays that were gorgeous. Windsor, too, I could’ve easily spent another hour touring: it was a fascinating building, filled with history.
As I said on Facebook, I may not be very religious, but that doesn’t mean places like these don’t fill me with a sense of reverence and awe. The history and the sheer humanity of both locations reminded me that we are all capable of wondrous things.
It may be just a big batch of rocks in a circle, but it has endured through disasters and the world changing.
You can see the photos of both Stonehenge and (what I could take of) Windsor Castle on my Flickr.