To free or not to free?

Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We set off in the direction of the New Forest. The New Forest is a walkers and cyclist's paradise, miles of open heaths and woodland with a few small villages with pubs interspersed.  I had a recollection at the back of my mind that many moons ago I had driven through a village called Burley and for whatever reason I didn't stop and made a mental note to come back one day, so this is where we were heading. We go the scenic way so that we drive through the national park, where there are gorse bushes with their bright yellow flowers on, some beautiful purple, white and green heathers and wild horses running free.  When we arrive at Burley, we park up and it takes just a few minutes for me to realise that one of two things has happened - either the passage of time has altered my memory of the village or the passage of time has altered the way I see the village now - either way, really all that is here are a few tourist gift shops, so we spend around 10 minutes there looking for a bakers to get some crusty rolls from and then move on.
We continue our drive through the New Forest and out Northwards in the direction of Stonehenge.  It's been many years since either of us went there and it's not that far out of our way to go and take a look - given that we would get in free with our English Heritage cards.
We find a perfect lunch spot down a country lane, off the road in the gateway to a farmer's field, nicely tucked out of the way - so we get the stove out and heat up some more soup to have with our crusty rolls. We relax there for a while - then continue on to Stonehenge.
Stonehenge is a stone circle, probably erected around 4500 years ago - the true purpose of the stones is unknown. As with all these sorts of monuments, there are various theories on its reason for being there - and the one I am most inclined to agree with is that it was used as an astronomical observatory, measuring movements of the sun, moon and stars. Almost like a giant calendar, measuring time, season, month and year.   When we arrive there is a group of protesters there campaigning to 'set the stones free' - they say that they belong to us (as in people in general) and the likes of English Heritage should leave the site so that we can sit in amongst them and touch them etc.   I just can't help thinking when I listen to them about a recent incident where someone managed to get up to the stones and took a chunk out of one of them as a keepsake? Souvenir? Some mystical ceremony?  I don't know, but it did just make me think - what would become of these stones now if English Heritage/National Trust weren't here?  If they set them free, would there be anything left of them in 5 years? 2 years? Even one year?  I'm not saying that I don't agree with their sentiment, but these stones are part of our heritage and someone needs to protect them.
It really is a conundrum, I distinctly remember as a kid walking in amongst these stones and touching them - at the time of course, not appreciating how one day that very act would become precious - but back then there was no entrance fee, no toilet block, no gift shop, no coffee shop - you just parked up on a scrap of land and walked down a footpath to them - it wasn't the huge attraction it is today for many. Who knows.
So, back to the car and we had deliberately parked right up the back out of the way so that we could brew up a coffee before heading off. We have our coffee with some delicious biscuits that we bought yesterday and then make our way back home, arriving home around 8pm.
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starlagurl on

I posted that story up on the forums! It's interesting that people would take time out of their day to make such a statement. Hmm... it's an interesting problem. It's too bad that a few bad apples can spoil the bunch...


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