Perhaps one of the most mystical bucket list places that I wanted to visit was the ancient monument, Stonehenge. From London it takes less than two hours to drive to Salisbury Plan in Wiltshire England. When you think of Stonehenge you think of the large circle of stones, however the Stonehenge complex is much more extensive. The entire site is made up of not only what remains of the ring of blue stones, but a much greater network of earthworks, burial mounds and a village radiating out from the stone circle into the surrounding countryside.
This prehistoric site was built in five known phases: beginning around 3100 BC, and up till around 1600 BC. New archaeological evidence now shows that the area around Stonehenge was used as an ancient burial ground as far back as 8000 BC. The stone circles that we identify as Stonehenge is thought to have been raised at between 3000 BC and 2200 BC.
The day I visited was cold, windy and raining, a typical fall day in England. As we drove through Salisbury Plan I noticed that the area was a vast open farming region. Soon I saw a mound here and a mound there in the fields, a few of the burial mounds. Then, for just a brief second, off in the distance, there it was, Stonehenge! Then it was gone behind one of the rolling hills.
We arrived at the visitor center /museum; got our tickets and boarded one of the trams that takes you out to the monument. The tram moved slowly, and my anticipation was running very high, where is it! Then off in the distance you see them, standing solemnly against the gray rain filled sky. The lonely stone circle, placed there by human hands thousands of years before the oldest temple or city that I saw in Greece and Italy. It is very breathtaking to think about it.
As archaeologists find more and more Neolithic and Bronze Age sites around Stonehenge changes have been made to preserve this entire complex. Not long ago the visitor center was just across a small road from the stone circles. It has now been relocated a distance away. To protect the large stones of the circle from visitors defacing them a rope boundary now encircles the monument, with special access allowed only once a year. None of these changes has taken away from the wonder of these works by ancient humans.