Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Magnificent Stonehenge

All of a sudden, there it is. Magnificent Stonehenge. Even with a crowd of tourists and the highway whizzing by surprisingly close, Stonehenge is awe-inspiring. As you circumnavigate it, it is possible to find an angle where everybody else disappears and your own view is just as it was 3,000 years ago. There is a definite feeling that something ancient and inexplicable dwells at Stonehenge. If you turn and look around you, you are surrounded by a wide green expanse of fields. All along the edge of the fields in the distance are softly rounded grassy mounds of earth, or "barrows", which were ancient burial grounds. As with many of the historical sites in England, admission entitles you to a very informative program accessed via a head set. There is a path around the monument and stations are marked that allow you to learn that on the morning of the summer solstice, the sun rises directly above the "heel" stone and shines through an arch to the inner stone circle.
Heading down the A4 main highway, the next town we stopped at was Avebury -- where there is also a "henge, " another circle of stones stood on end, but covering a much larger circle all around the town.

These stones are more accessible and we walked through the town and had lunch in the visitor's center. We made a couple more stops along the road to see the 13th Century abbey at Lacock.

Lacock Abbey was the site of many scenes for Harry Potter's The Chamber of Secrets -- the cloisters shown here were used for the scene where Harry freed the house-elf, Dobby. Signs in the visitors center indicate that much of the filming for the 6th movie will be shot here as well. There was an excellent visitors center, with friendly workers who gave us a tour of the photograph exhibit by one of the former residents of the abbey, William Henry Fox Talbot, known as the father of English photography.
Luckily, the rainy weather held off during our sightseeing today, but it was starting to rain harder and we had about a 150 mile drive to make it to Liverpool by nightfall.
After getting some miles behind us, we stopped at the "Moto" which is UK for truck stop, but it was a very posh one with a Marks and Spenser food hall as well as a buffet restaurant along with the usual Burger King. Diesel petrol for our car is sold in litres, and our partial fill up was 28 pounds, almost $60.00.

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