It is definitely astonishing, astounding and awe-inspiring. Stonehenge, standing there like giants, looking back at all who look at it, wise and wonderful, the powerful rocks that humble man and womankind.
This is where we headed yesterday to teach us all, as part of our Education By Astonishment trip, something about Geography, Design & Technology, History and a whole lot of mystery.
Before we set off we made a Stonehenge model from dominoes and explained to our little boys Daniel and Darley that nobody knows for sure why or who put these mammoth standing stones – many of the single stones the weight of four elephants! – in such precise shape on this Wiltshire plain. Daniel thought it was giants themselves. (“I know giants did live,” he said wholeheartedly.)
Others think it was people, our ancestors, lots of them, who moved the stones from near and as far as 250 miles to create a place to worship the sun. Burial barrows abound, so this has for a long, long time been a sacred site.
And so it still is: English Heritage has done a fantastic job and the new visitor centre is excellent, the staff friendly, the bus transfer to the stones slick and quick.
Using a piece of string, we illustrated to Daniel where we were on it, how far back 2,500-3,000 years ago was when the stones were put up, and then way along the string to around 400 million years ago when the rocks were formed.
And then we found the demo rock to show how the experts think some of the stones were transported.
“I think they drilled into them, put rope in the hole and dragged them on the logs, Daddy,” said Daniel, after attempting to push it with Darley (they say it would take 100 men, but I swear I saw our boys budge it a bit…)
I explained the big flaw in that plausible idea (yes, the nearest DIY shop was too far away…). It’s through these sort of chats (the real one, not the DIY joke!) that Daniel is gaining an immense sense of History.
Darley too, even at three, could feel something from Stonehenge. He stared at them in wonder just like the rest of us. Then tried ducking under the barrier keeping everyone a distance from them.
Before the boys were born, Debs and I used to visit standing stones all over Britain as a focus of walks, based on (Teardrop Explodes singer) Julian Cope’s excellent The Modern Antiquarian book. These prehistoric monuments are always in such special spots, with endless energy, stunning vistas, and where stillness speaks.
Afterwards when we reached our nearby tranquil Camping & Caravanning Club Devizes campsite it was time for a Computing lesson, showing Daniel how to write a blog (“It’s just like the diary book you’re writing but on a computer”).
So this next sentence is all Daniel’s, his first blog contribution, a most valuable one, after we asked him what he thought our blog readers might like to read: we went to see Stonehenge, it was good. I think one of the rocks on the ground looks like a car without a wheel at the front, but it’s got a wheel at the back.
And then he helped donate online to UNICEF, as we’re doing, a few quid for every person, place or thing we specifically set out to visit on this Education By Astonishment journey.
Then a peaceful sleep in our home sweet motorhome, before our teaching through travel adventure continued in the morning with a glorious sunrise, and a road trip to nearby Avebury, the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle. Constructed around 2600 BCE, it’s in fact made up of three stone circles. It too is mightily impressive.
This week we’re at the NEC for the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2015 – checking out useful gear and new motorhomes. Then soon afterwards we’re off to warmer climates where we can be outdoors more often at this time of the year – and really look forward to seeing many more legendary sunrises and astonishments on our new trip.
Stay with us to see what’s round the next corner… If we have seen further it is by standing together on the shoulders of giants. 🙂