If stones could talk


Stonehenge

If memory serves me right, the first time I came across The Stonehenge was in the Asterix comic, Asterix in Britain. While the heritage site does not quite make for an important part of the story itself, its mention by Obelix as striking him funny that the Britains just kept some stones around in a circle and believed it to be magical was something that struck me as quite interesting. And since these were the pre-internet and pre-Wikipedia days, I did not have the necessary resources apart from the regular school library to find out more about this enigmatic place called The Stonehenge.

However, given that I was quite an avid quizzer and was always on the lookout to read up about new things to keep my competitive advantage, it was not too long before I read about this site and what I read piqued my interest even more, given that nobody actually had any conclusive evidence as to what purpose this site actually served.

616px-Stonehenge_plan
Layout plan of the Stonehenge

At first sight and based on the various photographs of the place, The Stonehenge is just a mound on which huge slabs of rectangular stones of varying sizes have been placed in three concentric circles, the inner two being close to each other with the third one at quite some distance from the other two.

The surprising part about this heritage site is the fact that carbon dating and archaeologists put the age of these stones anywhere between 4000 and 5000 yrs, ie, these stones were kept here sometime between 3000 BC to 2000 BC and I personally am not aware of too many places in the world where something so ‘ancient’ (to use the term loosely) are actually visible to the general public. Therefore, when I actually planned a trip to London in late 2008, I noticed that a visit to The Stonehenge was actually only a day-trip from London and actually more than a few operators included this in a package tour. I immediately signed up for one of these and my wife and I were on our way to this wonderful heritage site.

When you first see the site itself, there is nothing too grand or ancient about it, but it is only when the Tour Guide starts explaining the various myths and legends associated with it that you realize that you are well and truly standing on the site of one of the most discussed about controversies and urban legends of our times. Ranging from theories which state that Stonehenge was a place of healing and ancestor worship, to theories which propose that it was part of a ritual passage from life to death, to celebrate past ancestors and the recently deceased, the stories about this place did not cease to amaze us.

What surprised my wife and I was the fact that these are huge stones with each one weighing approximately 50 tons each. And if they had been placed there in 2000 BC, then one wonders how the men of those days actually did it. After all, this was an era where animals were not yet domesticated, and man also had probably not invented the wheel or the pulley as well. Then how did they actually get these huge stones up and arrange them in perfect concentric circles is something that nobody actually has an answer to.

File picture from 1877
File picture from 1877

During the 18th and 19th centuries though this site was extremely popular and was visited by scores of tourists during the summer and winter solstice (longest and shortest days of the year) and the spring and autumn equinox. It therefore goes without saying that the site also has immense astrological significance.

And the fact that the British Government and UNESCO have prominently put this place on their list of monuments to be preserved and protected for eternity also add to the public perception that this is a ‘must see’ place when they are in the vicinity.

Picture from 2008
Picture from 2008

Despite all the hoopla and hullabaloo surrounding them, these stones have been quiet witnesses to many eras and probably have scores of stories to tell, if they could talk. Starting from humans who had just about evolved from being savages to today’s humans who use sophisticated laser and other state of the art technologies to gauge their age, these huge stone pillars have seen it all.

Related links

Stonehenge Wiki Link

A guide to Stonehenge

English Heritage link to Stonehenge

Please note that except for the first image of the post which is a picture taken by me, the rest of the pictures used in this post are from  Wikipedia.

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This post is written as a participating entry for Beyond The Photographs Contest at The Tales Pensieve

This post is also being used for Richa’s prompt of “Why I travel?” and although this post doesn’t quite answer that question directly, it is the interest that places like The Stonehenge generate that form one of my top most priorities for travel.

35 thoughts on “If stones could talk

  1. there is another controversial theory on them..the one linked to ancient aliens…the alien theorists believe this had some significance in association with symbols left for the ancient aliens to see from the sky, something of a sort of a runway may be?Can’t recall it exactly…but then the whole ancient alien theory itself sounds far fetched right?But who knows…;)

    • @confusedhumanity, given that I am a huge fan of the science fiction genre and the fact that these stones are unbelievably large and so well arranged to have been done by humans 2000 yrs ago, maybe the ancient aliens theory does hold some significance. Maybe I am a descendant of those ancient aliens and this post is just the beginning of a new wave of aliens 😉

  2. I was never quite interested in History, the B.C era annoyed me a lot. Not because of anything else, but because of the stone-faced history teacher who used to come and just dictate notes for the 45 minutes that the class ran.

    Though I’m aware of this historic moment, I was never really aware of the story behind it. Insightful.

    Now I can tell Lil Love where Jaadu of Koi Mil Gaya had landed on Earth. 😛

    • @Rekha, this is just part of the story behind this wonderful heritage site, the whole story would run into many more blog posts 😀 And BTW, loved the Jaadu reference, it seems to be Koi Mil Gaya and Kkrisssh season right now 😉

      • Wow! More stories from Mahabore. 😀

        I seriously wonder what’s so great about this Krishh series. The girls threatened their Dad at gun point (of course without a gun) and went for the movie. As for me, I still haven’t seen anything beyond Koi Mil Gaya which was a disaster to me. 🙂

    • @innerdialect, yes, all these unanswered questions teach us so much about ourselves, don’t they? Thanks for reblogging this post, truly appreciate it

  3. I always thought that place was associated with witch or wizardry. There’s something spooky about all those stones arranged together almost in a circle like that.

    • @Nish, well, there are quite a few urban legends and conspiracy theories which state that the place was used for religious rituals. In fact, a lot of human bones have been found buried there and it is therefore considered to be an old burial ground as well. I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if witches or wizards find this place interesting as well 😉

    • @Nischala, there is so much more to this place than what I have put in this particular post, an extremely interesting and intriguing place 🙂

      • Very true.. I guess many places have a story, history, and the collective thoughts, views and emotions of time, people, events and everything else.. There is only so much that can meet the eye.. You should probably write more about your travels too.. They’d make wonderful readings

      • @Nischala, well, I don’t travel too much, but for sure, I will put up travelogues whenever I can, and also maybe try to put up posts about some of the trips I had done in the past

    • @Sheethal, yes, some of these monuments and forts have seen things that you and me cannot even imagine about, quite some stories they have to share, don’t they? 🙂

  4. Yes I have read about them quite a lot. And they do seem to be very interesting piece of architecture or creation (I don’t know what to call them) and find space in quite a few books too! In fact even Rushdie has mentioned them in his autobiography Joseph Anton where he too visits this place with his wife..

    Richa

  5. Stones are mute testimony of the bygone era. If they could talk we would be enriched by their experience. When I visited Halebidu , Gomteshwara and the old forts , a mere touch fascinates a part of me.

    • @Kalpana, oh yes, if only these monuments could talk, then we would get to hear some of the most amazing stories of their times, wouldn’t we?

    • @Vidya, well I haven’t traveled that much in life, but I will try and share some memories from trips I have made in the past. Thanks for the constant encouragement Vidya, truly appreciate it 🙂

  6. Fascinating! It is always extremely cool to go to such a place and be immersed in the history that surrounds you. If only those rocks could talk what an interesting tale they could relate. Brilliant and informative piece.

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