Stonehenge and Salisbury

Trip Start Dec 17, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This past weekend we took an early train to Salisbury. An hour or so later we stepped off the train to weather reminiscent of our Edinburgh trip.  Brrr... We hopped on the tour bus to Stonehenge and a short half hour later we could see the circle of Stonehenge before us, smack-dab right next to the road.  I was prepared for this after researching it last week, but it's a bit unfortunate.  It would have been incredible to approach this amazing feat  from afar on foot.  The countryside is a beautiful landscape of rolling hay fields.  Instead, you could practically run in to the ancient heelstone, off-set from the main circle, that is situated inches from the edge of the road. 

I must say, I don't think I ever really thought I'd see this place.  I remember seeing it in history books in grade school, but it never really crossed my mind until recently that I would actually ever go to see it.  Being so close to Bristol, it was hard to resist.  For anyone wondering, it really does look just like the history books, but being there I could actually start to appreciate the mind-boggling enormous task it must have been to erect those stones.  Just the small ones weigh a measly 5 tons.  Bah.... Those must have been a piece of cake compared to the more recognizable "sarsen" stones that form the tall outer ring.  Those weigh anywhere from 20-50 tons a piece.  Pretty nuts....

I confirmed that in fact it is possible to take 8,692 photos of ancient rocks. There are quite a few angles in that circle of prehistoric stone. Fortunately for all reading this, I only included a few.... and probably too many at that.  After I had my photography fill, we headed back to Salisbury for some lunch and a tour around town.  As with most towns here, the main attraction was the cathedral.  It was on the train ride that we discovered that Salisbury Cathedral housed one of the four remaining originals of the Magna Carta. So off we trekked to another amazingly beautiful cathedral in search of an old piece of vellum.  We saw an original of the famous Magna Carta of 1215.  This place constantly amazes me.  You never know what extremely important piece of history you will stumble upon, whether you are looking for it or not.

There's an interesting tidbit of history we learned about Salisbury.  The Cathedral boasts the tallest spire in all of Europe.  As a side note, the spire was an afterthought and actually is off plumb by close to 30 inches.  From certain angles you can see the top of the spire leaning slightly.  It was this spire that saved the city of Salisbury from bombing in WWII.  The Luftwaffe were instructed not to destroy the cathedral at all costs, as it was used as a way finding device to bomb neighboring towns.  Salisbury was able to continue building war planes without incident because of this.

Of course our trip wasn't complete until we tried out a pub or two.  It is an unwritten rule here that everyone must check out a local pub while visiting a new town.  So we stumbled, again, upon a bit of history.  We had a pint at the "Queen's Arms" pub that was first opened in 1558.  Yep, that's right.  1558.  Crazy.... and after a couple more stops, it was time to head home.

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