Stonehenge revisited 2017

I visited Stonehenge ten years ago on my birthday (April 2007). This year, in 2017 my parents again asked me, what I would like do on my birthday. And again I said i would like to visit Stonehenge.

We made the thirty minute drive to the henge from their home. I was taken a back this time by the changes that had taken place. A huge visitors centre had now sprung up quite a distance from the site. There was a stone-age encampment near by the visitors’ centre and the biggest change of all was that you now have to get a minibus up to the stones.

My father and myself jumped the bus, and in a throng of Japanese, Italian, and German tourists – in fact nationalities from all over the globe, we made our way to the stones. It was hard to get decent shot with the number of people taking selfies around the stones, and just the general crowd.

There seems to have been a definite shift in the culture of Stonehenge – it now represents not something ancient anymore but something definitively modern – and that is a monetary value, what profit can be made.

Scarfell Pike August 2015

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I love wild camping and any excuse to get away into the hills and I go for it. I’ve just been away with a friend of mine to the Lakes. We caught the train to Windermere and then a bus up to Dungeon Ghyll, from where we set off into the wilds. We camped the night on the side of Scarfell Pike; Bivvying up near an outcrop of trees. The next day we set off up Scarfell Pike and across Bow Fell. In torrential rain and extremely high winds we made our way up the hillside. Scarfell Pike is not quite a mountain being just four meters short of what is required. It is an impressive structure however and demands respect. We decided it was not realistic to summit Scarfell Pike, as the weather had come down too hard so instead headed down the other side of Bow fell into the Wasdale Valley. We camped again there in the valley near the tip of Waswater. The next day setting out for the hike to Dalegarth, a sleepy little village about seven miles across moorland. Arriving there early afternoon, we caught the miniature steam railway from Eskdale to Ravenglass and camped on the beach with a roaring fire. The sunset that night on the beach at Ravenglass was something else.

Stonehenge 2007

In 2007 armed with my new digital camera (Canon EOS 400d), I set off one autumn evening with my dad to drive the 27 miles, from Dorset where my parents live into Wiltshire. This was not only an excuse to try out my new camera but I felt the start of the adventure I had envisaged for many years. It was appropriate then that we were driving towards Stonehenge. The concept of photographing sites of the sacred and the holy had an obvious beginning with Stonehenge. Stonehenge is synonymous with mystery and in particular the unravelling of the unknown. No one is quite sure of the purpose that it served although many apply theories. Yet there seems no way of ever knowing. What a mystery then not like some abstract Loch Ness monster sighting but something tangible and yet beyond our understanding. This is almost what they built it for in a sense I believe; the nature of monument Рto stand up against the passage of time, in order to say that what they believed in was strong enough to last and should be remembered. What ever drove them to build such a thing was ultimately tied up with their success as a people and the focus of their belief and that it has lasted the test of time.

We arrived at Stonehenge in the late afternoon, and except for a few remaining visitors the place was almost empty. The sun was low at that point, the day had been mostly clear but there were streaks of cloud painted across the sky. This was my first visit to Stonehenge and initially I was taken a back by the size of the stones. It really is an impressive place if you have not been. We walked around the stones somewhat soberly; which seemed fitting. I actually remember the feeling that I had, a sense of power and yet a peace at the same time. I remember thinking and coming up with my own theory about the function of this stone circle РI felt it had to have been used in a ceremonial practice associated with the celebration of life and death in some form or other and imagined that would meant human or at least animal sacrifice. Today I think people would rather shy away from believing in the more barbaric practices of early man and would want to forget that civilisation is built on such a thing. The world has not always been lit with electricity and in these darker times there would have needed to be a far greater dependence on nature and being in relationship with the earth. The seasons no longer present much of a challenge but in past times the darkness of the winter months surely would have been a very cold and inhospitable place for our ancestors. They would have drawn on every possible resource at their disposal to survive and make it through those months. So a megalith of these proportions, must have been built on sure faith; and the driving force that erected it in a sense is the same today as it ever was.

We finished our tour of the stone circle and were ushered out by security, the last to leave. We drove away in silence and for myself at least, touched by the experience.