Mysteries of Standing Stones
Some of my best adventures happened when we got off the main road in search of a local treasure… like standing stones. Standing stones are a record of man’s history and they seem to hold some sort of mysterious magic. I’ve heard it called energy.
Standing stones are single or groups of stones which are typically upright in position. But, they are often combined with stones laying horizontally across the top of them. Think Stonehenge.
Their fascination lies in their age. To someone who has grown up in the Western US, a man-created structure over 100 years of age is extremely rare. On the east coast, they can trace structures back to the 17th century.
In Europe and the UK, our ancestors have left physical markers that are far older. Those markers draw visitors by the thousands every year. To protect popular destinations from damage and vandalism, protectors fence them or limit access.
Stonehenge exemplifies a stone circle that is easily accessed and full of history. It’s probably the best known standing stone circle in the world. Started in about 3100BC, history and mystery shroud it.
Accessed via the A36 and A303 it is about 40 miles east of Bath on your way to London. Stonehenge receives tens of thousands of visitors. A paved path minimizes human impact on the site.
Two things struck me. One – it was raining sideways and there is little shelter on the Salisbury Plains. Be prepared for what mother nature sends you direction.
The second was the extremes. These magnificent ancient stones erected and placed in a precise manner. The difficulty of the work had to be incredible. Then shift your gaze and the A303 freeway is in the background.
The site is handicap accessible and there are visitor facilities available.
I respect the need to preserve, but the restrictions of access felt sad.
The stones are magnificent and impressive, but their majesty feels restricted and distant.
Avebury is an even older ring of stones and the largest in the world. It also
offers you a more authentic peaceful experience of the majesty of standing stones.
While you can’t reach Avebury via tour bus… that’s ok. It means the area gets far fewer visitors and less impact. Narrow roads and hairpin turns restrict large vehicles. It’s an entirely different experience.
Avebury’s about 30 miles north of Stonehenge. It’s a short hop north off the A4 – an old Roman road that used to link London to Bath.
Much of Avebury is within a huge standing stone circle. Researchers date the stones to 3400BC. The start of construction had to be 300 years before Stonehenge. Another difference is the stones. The stones not smoothed or chiseled like those of its neighbor. These are natural in shape. The work needed to move them from their quarry two miles away had to be extreme.
Go and Explore
Park your car and go through the gate – mind you don’t let the sheep out. There you are. You and the sheep among the massive stones.
The outermost circle is 1396 feet in circumference but there is more than one circle here. Inside this is a second circle which encloses two more circles. They offer guided walks of this Neolithic monument. Or do a self-tour. There is a great little store in the post office that has lots of useful information on the area available.
The Avebury pub is the only one in the world completely surrounded by a stone circle… It’s also got a reputation for good food.
No one will rush you here. Walk the perimeter, enjoy the peace and the energy. Visit with the locals. Take your time and restore.