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At 9:30 in the morning, we were just getting up after a sleep disturbed by Noah's teething when my brother called and invited us to go to Stonehenge with him. We quickly got ready and he swung by and picked us up.
|The first view of Stonehenge, surrounded by sheep and right next to a busy road. Not an ideal setting for a world-famous heritage site.|
After a 45 minute drive, Stonehenge swept into sight. It's really a shame that such a busy road runs so close to a place where you really don't want the sight of traffic, but there's are plans to put the road into a tunnel, which will really be an improvement.
|Salisbury Plain is a big playground for the army. Here we are, at a 5000 year-old site, being buzzed by an attack helicopter.|
Stonehenge is located on Salisbury Plain, which the military use to play around with their tanks and guns. On the drive in we had passed quite a few military vehicles, and we hadn't been in the Stonehenge car park for more than five minutes when an attack helicopter flew overhead. I wonder if the pilot was there for a bit of sightseeing too.
|Herds of people do the loop around the site.|
Although there was a free audio tour, I decided to concentrate on taking pictures, and had a wonderful time. This was the first time I had been out with my camera in what felt like an age, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
|A trick of perspective makes the man look almost as big as the stones.|
The tourist path circled the monument, coming to within about ten metres of the stones before looping out for perspective, then finishing close by again. I knew I was enjoying myself with my camera when I noticed that the people I came with were ready to leave, and I wanted to go around again and take more pictures. It really is an awe-inspiring monument.
|The heel-stone, on the right, marks the end of a causeway leading to the circle that was used in ancient ceremonies.|
By this time we were all quite hungry, so we stopped off at Woodhenge for lunch. Smaller, less spectacular and quieter than Stonehenge, Woodhenge is a good place to stop and have lunch. There's even a picnic table there. We had the place to ourselves.
|Having relocated to Woodhenge, we have a very windy picnic.|
After lunch we had a quick look at Woodhenge. A series of low colour-coded concrete pillars marked where wooden pillars had stood several thousand years ago. It was hard to see the concentric circles; it all seemed a little random to me, but I suppose it would have been easier if I could get fifty metres off the ground.
|A series of small concrete posts show where Woodhenge stood 4000 years ago.|
We moved on to Old Sarum. Let me tell you a little about Old Sarum. It's an ancient hill-fort just outside of Salisbury. As with most hill forts, it was successively upgraded over the years, and was the centre of a town. It even had a cathedral, until the bishop decided to move it. So he built another cathedral, and everyone in the town tore down their houses and rebuilt them close to the new cathedral. And that's the only reason the hill-fort isn't in the centre of Salisbury - the whim of a bishop.
|The outer (above) and inner (below) ditches of Old Sarum castle.|
We arrived at Old Sarum an hour before the gates were due to close, so we didn't have time to go into the castle, but we walked around the grounds and had a look at the ruins of the old cathedral.
|Visitors on the walls of Old Sarum castle look down on the cruciform walls of the old Cathedral.|
We got back home tired but happy, and we're looking forward to taking our next trip.