Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stonehenge on a Sunday

We hit Stonehenge on the way to Pat on Sunday. BOY, has it changed. When I was a kid, you could climb on the stones. When Mike was a kid, you could park a short walk away and circle the stones at a distance--you had to have a good zoom lens for decent images.

Nowadays, you come over a hill and see what appear to be cows on a hillside. In fact, I actually said, "Look, cows." Then, from behind trees, Stonehenge appears in the distance, among the 'cows' (actually, people), looking like a left-behind play setup, it's so far away. I feel sure that the road is now somehow pushed back.

We followed the signs and continued on and on. We turned right. We turned right again. We entered a mammoth car park, where men in uniforms told us, "No fee today"--wait, there's a fee to park?--and parked in a small sea of vehicles. We walked to a low building surrounded by swarms of tourists.

It costs, as it turns out, £55 for a 'family' to go because you must buy a membership in British Heritage. Which is separate from the National Trust, the administrator of a number of other sites on our to-see list. However, BH does administer Tintagel.

We stood there, debating advisability. A female salesperson swooped upon us, sensing her moment. She began her spiel, dazzling us with her accent and her assuredness. We joined.

You have to take a shuttle bus to the stones. A shuttle bus!

The value added is pretty considerable, though. There's a museum now that contains 5000-year-old cremated remains and a 5500-year-old skeleton found at the site. (They did forensic analysis and have tried to re-create his head.) Stonehenge itself is currently estimated to be more than 4200 years old, dating to well before the Druids. In terms of the Easter Island heads and the Roman Colosseum, Stonehenge occurred so long before their times that it was the dust of history for them.

It was cool.

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