Cloudy this morning then it cleared up into a beautiful day. Tickets were booked for a 9:30 tour of Stonehenge this morning. It was suggested we get there early as buses from London and around the country would be arriving around that time. After a first view as we approached, we rolled up to the entrance and the parking lot wasn't yet open. With cars starting to line up, it was decided to let us in. Once in and parked we headed for the ticket offices that opens at 9:00. No, need to wait another 10 - 15 minutes. Why? Summer Equinox, that explained the line up of vehicles on some of the roads near the Henge, apparently lots of people come to celebrate the Equinox, only a few hundred this year but there have been thousands at times. Apparently, they are allowed in until 8:30am but they had left quite a mess so the team was working to clean up before they could open. No queue and in the first bus load, we were able to spend quite a bit of time at the site wandering around and taking photos before it became quite crowded. By the time we got back to the Administrative building, the bus queue was multiple buses long.
A bit of history. Stonehenge history can be identified back as far as 8000BC although the actual stone henge itself was built between the period 3000 - 2200BC. Consisting of a 33 metre circle of large sarsen stones weighing 25 - 30 tonnes, originally with other lintel stones on top, an internal horseshoe formation of more large stones then further formations of what are called "Blue Stones" weighing around 3 tonnes. The outer ring of stones is enclosed by a Bank and Ditch. Most of the "Blue Stones" are missing. The Bank and Ditch are what makes this a true Henge.
While no-one knows the real reason for the stone henge, it is believed to be a place of worship involving the sun solstice days as there is an alignment of stones and gaps that align to the sunrise and sunset times of the summer and winter solstices. While there are a lot of beliefs around the Druids, and they may have used the henge as a place of worship, Stonehenge was actually built well before their time. The " Blue Stones", came from Wales, 150 mile away, and are believed to have healing properties. Items and bodies found give rise to the thought that the site may have been a pilgrimage site from all over Europe.
In one photo you will see a number of mounds along the horizon. These are called "Barrows" and are actually burial mounds. These can contain a number of bodies buried at different times and over that time,the Barrows became longer and higher. The surrounding area has significant numbers of these mounds.
From Stonehenge, we headed to West Bay. This visit was because it was sort on the way and nice country to drive through but the eastern cliffs there featured heavily in the ABC TV series "Broadchurch". While the beach at Brighton yesterday consisted of smooth small stones, the beach here was much finer, not sand but getting closer. There was even a single wave surf which has probably created the finer beach over the years. Maybe in a few more thousand years, they will have a sandy beach.
After a very late night last night keeping you readers entertained, and because our accommodation is a fair war east of Exeter, we decided to call an early day to catch up on some sleep.
Tomorrow we head for Cornwall.