#Janathon Day 16 – Stonehenge

IMG_4363There seems little point in having a day off, having an inspirational morning visiting a library, bookshop and art class, and then driving past Stonehenge to get home in order to go for a walk. I had boots, a hat, walking poles, and the only regrettable bit of attire was the jeans. I parked, put my boots on, and waved my English Heritage card at the right people.

I did the decent Janathon thing and walked from the Visitors Centre to the stones via the barrows. Which made the whole enterprise a lot more enjoyable than going straight down the road. There was no-one much about, I missed most of the large groups as they vanished over the horizon complaining of the cold (in fairness, it wasn’t sunbathing weather). It was good to have time to think, and I remembered how the first sense I got of vocation to the priesthood was an enormous sense of urgency, but not knowing what I was supposed to do with it. I’ve finally landed in a place where I do know what to do with it, some 15 years later. (12 of those years have been spent discerning, training, serving curacy). That’s not long in compared with the 4,500 year timescale of the landscape around Stonehenge.  IMG_4360

Although most people head straight for the stones, and thence to the gift shop and restaurant, I love the barrows. It’s salutary to remember how hard it would have been to shift the earth, and how much they stuck out noticeably in the landscape. People built them because they cared. And that’s the thing with Stonehenge. We might not get why it was built, or how it was built, or how it was used. But people put that much effort into a landscape because they thought it was important. I don’t find Stonehenge a particularly prayerful place – there are always too many people. But it does offer a sense of connection with the people who lived here so very long ago.

Distance: 1.92 miles
Pace: from brisk to meandering
Number of people speaking English: more than I expected
Number of people smiling as they had photos taken: many

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6 responses to “#Janathon Day 16 – Stonehenge

  1. I much prefer Avebury, but that wasn’t en route for you 😀
    You may recall I was once at boarding school in a place called Marlborough, where & when I got an absolute belly-full of ancient landscapes, earthworks, stones etc. It’s a wonder it didn’t put me off for life.
    P.S. Not sure if you saw any of the recent BBC series with Neil Oliver on the Sacred Wonders of Britain (which also preferred Avebury – and Old Sarum – to Stonehenge). Still available on iPlayer apparently: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03nprt8

    • That’s made me chuckle, I recorded it and am currently catching up with my feet up!
      I still haven’t been to Avebury, but it is high on my list as the weather improves….

  2. Stonehenge is one of those Jewels that you live alongside (as I did in Tidworth) but don’t really appreciate that much until you’re about to leave, and it suddenly reminds you of the transience of your life. Here today, and gone tomorrow, but Stonehenge will be around in another 4 thousand years, while we will be a pile of dust blowing on the wind.

    Salisbury is one of those magic places to walk (or to run as I did all of the years that I lived there) and early morning is particularly lovely at sunrise. Off course, I saw many sunrises on the plain, sometimes from a Trench at ‘Standto’ which is always at first light, as the enemy often thinks that the dawn twilight is the time when sentries will be asleep or at their sleepiest. Other times, from a vantage point during treks across country, carrying weight, but loving the surroundings. Even in pouring rain, the scenery could be good as you looked at your map and saw the barrows and other historic places marked, and which you always avoided when in vehicles, but could approach and view on foot.

    One of the great shames is the huge areas that are out of bounds or restricted due to military use, which constrain public access to huge pieces of real estate. A safety necessity, but the loss of wider amenity to the public.

    Glad you took the time out for a walk during the day off. I note that you were not accompanied by your virtual, canine friend. Has he left you for another? 🙂

    • Lol, Brother Duncan and Spot would have been welcome to come, but I was thinking about stuff, so never thought to invite them. Not sure if dogs are allowed up to stones….

  3. I’m loving your Janathons Claire. They are making me feel humble and give me the odd smile too. Stonehenge reminds me of a time I visited there with my mum and dad, long before a restaurant or gift shop (ugh) and we were right up by the stones , with no one else in sight. What a luxurious memory to have. happy rest of January , Love Freda xxxxx

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