Places I Have Been: Stonehenge

Stonehenge fascinates me, because its origin is so uncertain.

Any person who talks to me for, like, thirty seconds will come away feeling as though he has been through an interrogation. I just like to ask questions! Like my mama always said, "How will you learn the answers if you don't ask any questions." So I ask. And ask and ask and ask and ask. I NEED ANSWERS.

It will not surprise you to learn, then, that I have tons of questions about Stonehenge. Most of these have been asked before. Some have even been conditionally answered, always prefaced by the words, "We think ..." But nothing is definitive.

But here's what I want to know: Is it true that Stonehenge is a mystical place? Because some people think that it is, and they tell stories about how they felt all weird when they stood in the circle and other crazy stuff like that. And there are those who think that Stonehenge was built by the Ancients as a temple or some kind of religious center (although their definition of religion and mine tend to differ--by a long shot).

So I was excited that I was going to be visiting Stonehenge during my U.K. Adventure. I just knew that I would finally be getting an answer to my question, that when I stood near the stones or placed my hands on them ... what? Oh, you can't do that? Well, crap.

Sure enough, just like happened in high school, a few stupid people mess everything up for all the law-abiding folks. Apparently, several years back, some people thought it would be fun to graffiti the stones. I'm gonna take a huge leap here and guess that these people were American, because it just sounds like something we would do. Even worse, there were others who were using their pocketknives to carve out little pieces of the stones so they could ... I don't know ... go back home and display them? Tell their friends, "Look what I've got!"? People are strange.

Stonehenge is surrounded by a huge chain-link fence. You can pay four pounds to get inside it, but that doesn't mean you can go up to the stones. You can listen to a pre-recorded lecture about it as you stare (from a distance), but that does not really lend itself to any mystical activity.

Now I happened to be on a bus tour, and we were stopping for twenty minutes at Stonehenge, so there would have been no time for the Four Pound Extravaganza of Staring anyway. I stood outside the fence for free and took pictures through the little chinks. I did not feel any Higher Power or soul-stirring or aura-cleansing.

So I guess my question was answered.

That is not to say that I didn't enjoy looking at Stonehenge. It's a lot smaller than you think, from looking at pictures, and it's pretty cool when you think that those huge stones have been in the same place for over 1000 years. In terms of commercialism, Stonehenge is still pretty much untouched, so to speak; there are no shops right next to the stones (although I think there is one across the street) and there isn't a huge banner that reads, "SEE STONEHENGE," and they don't have a mascot named Stonehenge Hank and some guy dressed up like an old gray rock running around having pictures taken.

Still, I would have liked to have gotten a little closer, at least.

Well, maybe next time.

It might be interesting to note that all my pictures of Stonehenge are blurry. Maybe that's all the mystical energy radiating through my camera.

Here, you can see the fence, a little. This is as close as I got. I stepped back into traffic, too, but I wasn't killed. MAYBE IT WAS THE MAGIC OF STONEHENGE!

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