What can possibly be said about Stonehenge that has not already been said? No doubt stories and experiences have been passed on for more than 3000 years. We had read many of them before we left and decided to visit simply because it was there. It was close to Bath where we planned to spend four days, therefore it had to be. At least, we could say we had seen it.
Nothing we read or viewed or listened to could ever have prepared us for the visceral impact. Stonehenge is so much larger than we expected, the engineering more stunning, the emotional stirring unexpected, the majesty unexpected. Having been told that we would not really “see” it unless we had a permit to walk on the inside, which we could not obtain, turned out to mean nothing. Every bit of Stonehenge touched us.
We walked very slowly around it, stopped often, listened, found the silent spot within, and it was enough. Several times, we walked away from the monument and then walked back toward it simply to assess the impact. It was always different and it was always deep.
Trying to imagine how it might have been used, we were primarily tuned into the immensity and that there were so many conflicting dimensions: Healing, worship, community, celebration, reverence, and more.
No matter what we had or had not studied, the key was the effect on us. Stonehenge seemed very personal, a sacred space to look inward through different eyes. It is truly a sacred space.
Neither of us was really aware of other visitors until a large tour bus arrived, then another, then another, each with its expert guide. We realized that our inner peace had departed.
That seemed to be the perfect time to drive to Avebury and its English heritage site. If all the hordes of tourists and seekers had arrived at Stonehenge, perhaps there would be no one at Avebury. And that proved to be so. We enjoyed the remaining hour of daylight to walk among the stone circles, again wanting our intuition to tell us the intention, the history, the why. We both sensed that exploration of Avebury had really only begun and that much more of it would be discovered.
Avebury, the town, is built around the stone circles and is a wonderful way to incorporate the ancient with all that has been built since. A fitting end to the day was having the evening meal at the Red Lion Pub which features good fare and service. It is said to be haunted, but we saw no evidence of those kind of spirits! The food and beer were just fine, the staff hospitable, and the other guests friendly. The drive back to Bath was straightforward.
One of the unexpected aspects of the trip was that both sites are visible from major thoroughfares! They are simply part of the terrain…and have been for millennia.
If you will be in London, there are tours to Stonehenge that will save you time and planning. If time is available, we recommend that you travel to Bath, follow the course we did (Bath, Cotswalds, Stonehenge / Avebury), and make even more of it.