Have you ever visited an important historical location and swore you could feel it's energy?
Stonehenge, for me, was one of those places. I first visited 10+ years ago, and had wanted to go back ever since. My husband on the other hand, had never been but had always wanted to visit, so we took advantage of a stopover on the way home from Athens.
The Stonehenge monument dates back thousands of years and today remains an impressive feat of engineering. Archeologists continue to discover new findings about the stones, the area and its past, but it remains clouded in mystery. It is unclear who originally built Stonehenge and what it was originally used for, though there continues to be much debate on both subjects. Whether it be an ancient Druid temple, a place of Spiritual healing, an eclipse predictor, an ancient monument to the dead, or one of many temples built by ancient aliens, Stonehenge remains impressive and important.
We arrived at London Heathrow late in the evening, our Blacklane driver waiting to escort us to the Rubens at the Palace Hotel. After a quick walk around the area, we ordered room service for dinner and prepped for the next day. London at night has an eerie feel, especially in October with the crispness in the wind and the echo of footsteps walking on fallen leaves. On our night walk, we stubbled upon a breakfast diner just down the street from the Rubens, and planned an extra early wake up so we could enjoy a hearty breakfast before the long bus ride to Stonehenge.
TIP: Explore your options, there are a multitude of ways to get to Stonehenge, including train and bus tour packages. We opted for a Premium Tours direct coach, as it was the quickest return trip.
After breakfast, and a brisk walk to Victoria Coach Station, we were on the bus for the two-hour drive to Salisbury. It was comfortable ride with beautiful views along the way. When we arrived at the car park, we were given a ticket and the option of selecting a headset guide (which we did not). We then needed to wait for the dedicated bus to bring us directly to Stonehenge (which was there in no time at all). This process was new to me, having been implemented within the last decade. When I first visited, there was a bus direct from a nearby village to Stonehenge, or you could simply walk. Back then, there was only a small gift shop, which you could walk through only after you visited, but now there were facilities, shops and food available anytime.
My other half was excited but carried with him expectations that the site would be over-crowded and he would be left disappointed. Stonehenge happily exceeded his expectations. Walking past the shops, the vast green field quickly opened up.
There were crowds of people, especially at the first point the path reached the stones, but they quickly dispersed beyond. Many stopped at markers listening to their audio guides, while others posed for selfies. The paved path that encircles the stones comes (at points) very close to where they stand, so it was relatively easy to ignore the others and focus only on the huge monolithic stone circle. It seemed that many came only for the photo at the closest point and did not bother to walk around the entire stone circle. We, of course, did.
As should you if you every have the opportunity to visit.
As is typical, the weather in October was cool and clouded, but the sun pushed its way through at times, changing the light and the magical look of the stones. As we slowly followed the path around the stone circle, we snapped hundreds of photos. Every angle produced a completely different colour. That in itself was magical and unexpected.
The stones, albeit huge and obtuse, are uniquely part of the landscape. Perhaps it was the way the colour of the stones contrasted with the grass in the big open field, or how the birds playfully landed on (or around) them, or how the sun seemed to spotlight it when it appeared, but Stonehenge belonged. It was easy to picture the stone circle in it's full glory, being used thousands of years ago, as if it always existed.
Did you know many claim to see faces in the stones? Different archeologists have claimed over the years to see faces carved into the stones of Stonehenge, some believing that the carvings must have been a deliberate dedication to the creator/s (considering how difficult the stone is to carve). What do you see?
The summer and winter solstice draw huge crowds to Stonehenge, further linking the structure to the cycles of the earth and sky. Upon special request, and only at specific times of the year, some are granted VIP access into the center of the stone circle. To be up close to the stones, before or after the general crowds, must be a surely amazing experience.
We only managed to walk one full turn around the stone circle before heading back. Time both raced and stood still. Regardless of what you believe, Stonehenge is undoubtedly a spiritual place. It felt special. Mystic. So much so that we barely spoke on the ride back to London, taking the time to absorb and digest what we had just experienced.