Advertisements for the Stonehenge bus tour claim:
Go back 5000 years
Every 30 minutes.
An oxymoronic blend of ancient history and modernity.
I did get plunged back in time today. D was visiting from the States, so we took a time-traveling daytrip, from the Salisbury Cathedral (constructed 1258) that houses the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta (1215), to the ruins of a castle and cathedral atop Old Sarum (built 1069), to even further back at Stonehenge (earliest estimates, 3100 BC).
I think of myself as a very nerdy traveler; for example, of all places in Paris, I had the hardest time pulling myself away from the Army Museum. I suppose it’s because I love to know about the history and context of the place I’m in—the people, events and culture that shaped it. Thankfully, D’s a nerdy traveler too, maybe even more so than I am. So despite having been repeatedly warned that the Stonehenge is really just a pile of rocks, we had a fun, fact-filled trip. It helped that we were there from 5-6 pm, when there are fewer people and the golden light brings into relief the contours of the stones, the ancient carvings and the more recent graffiti etchings. (By “recent,” I mean 1800s.)
I also learned for the first time today, from the audio guide, how to correctly pronounce lichen–”lih-chin.” There are 90 types of lichens growing on the sarsen stones of Stonehenge. I have been curious about that word ever since my middle school science class, and I have been saying it wrong all this time–pronouncing it “lie-kins.”
We weren’t allowed to take any photos in the Chapter House of the Salisbury Cathedral, so I don’t have any photos of the Magna Carta or the chronological carvings of Biblical scenes that encircle the walls of the medieval frieze. Being both nerds AND Christians, we thoroughly enjoyed going around the entire frieze trying to identify all the stories depicted. Noah’s Ark was my favorite.
Closing words today from clause 40 of the Magna Carta:
To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.