Stonehenge is a truly magical place. While I’ve checked it off my bucket list, it’s a place I’d like to visit again and again, and you should too!
I heard about Stonehenge as a young kid and I always wanted to visit, yet I didn’t truly understand what it was. Then about 10 years ago, I read the book Tales of the Rigante by David Gemmell. It’s an alternate history of Scotland during the time of Roman and other invasions into the country. This story weaves magic in to the timeline, which in my opinion is far more accurate than what’s taught in schools. At one point in the story, the stone circles come into play. Ever since, I knew I had to see them in person.
Standing stones exist all over the UK, with Stonehenge as the most famous. My first visit to standing stones was at the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis and Harris with Haggis Adventures. I loved walking among the monoliths and feeling the magic in the air there. At the time, I was told they were far better than Stonehedge, simply because they were free to visit and there wasn’t a barrier preventing access to them. That advice didn’t take into account just how remote the Isle of Lewis and Harris is, and how much it costs to get to the island.
Finally on December 2nd, I had my chance to visit Stonehenge. With a car from Easirent, I arrived rather late in the afternoon after putting the wrong destination into Google Maps. Luckily, with sunset approaching, this turned out to be the perfect time to visit.
While travelers have been coming to visit Stonehenge for millennia, the original tourist attraction opened up in 1968. At that time, the visitor center was a simple hut next to the stones, and people could walk among the stones as they wished. Then in 2013, a new visitor center was opened a short distance away with a full information center and a shuttle to the stones. The stones were also cordoned off to preserve the site. While I can’t compare the new tours with the old, I was very happy with the current experience. The bus arrived shortly after I arrived to take me to the stones, and there were information displays all over the place.
But enough about the organization. For me it was all about the magic.
As I got off the shuttle bus and walked up the final path to the stones, I immediately felt something distinctly mystical. As the stones came into view, it seemed as if the people disappeared and I was in the setting of a Fantasy novel. That was surprising, considering the amount of tourists surrounding me.
The stones are cordoned off. At the closest point, the stones is about 10m (30 feet) away. That’s a big difference to one article I read months ago which stated you had to stand much further away than that. True, the cordon is elliptical and the apsis (furthest point) is more like 40m away from the closest stone. As it happens, that side is a great angle to see the stones without any civilization (the highway) in the picture. Another great angle is from the bridge, which shows the most intact portion of the circle. Personally I considered every angle to be fantastic.
As I continued to walk around the stones, I had the feeling I was visiting a bygone age of magic and druids, using the stones for their true purpose. Goosebumps stood out on my skin as I felt a fey breeze. It was sunset and the colorful clouds made the sky a surreal backdrop. I could distinctly see a group of ancient warriors riding over a far hill on their way to where I was at the stones….
Finally I pulled myself out of my reverie and found a guide who was keen in providing me with all kinds of facts about the stones and visitor center. The current layout is certainly a lot different than the pre-2013 arrangement, which you can still see if you go to Google Maps and look at the satellite imagery for the location. The highway used to pass right next to the stones, spoiling the hallowed setting.
The truth is, no one really knows the true history of the stones. There are plenty of theories, but no empirical proof. I have my own ideas, which definitely lean toward the supernatural. You’ll have to form your own opinions when you arrive.
Once again, this was one of those experiences which the words of a blog fail miserably to depict. Words just fall short in conveying the true sensations experienced, which transcend anything physical. As such, you’ll just have to visit yourself to see what I’m talking about. If you’ve already been there, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. And if you went before 2013, it’s time for another visit.
Easirent is the cheapest car company to rent from within the UK (but perhaps not the best).
If you’re traveling with more than one person, I’d recommend using Airbnb. Some locations can be fantastic.