The Way to See Stonehenge

We took our first-ever trip to London in October. The city has long been on my bucket list, but for my history/archaeology loving husband, the thing that intrigued him the most was the proximity to Stonehenge. I was also very intrigued to go there, but not to the degree that he was.

When searching that famous third-party site of tours, I found one that was led by an archaeologist. When I told him about this particular tour, his eyes bugged out and he said “yes, I want to go on that one.”

So, I booked it immediately. The only availability was on our last full day in London, but that turned out to be okay. It was a full day, up before sunrise and back long after sunset, and even though we had to travel the next day, it was so worth it.

We had some major anxiety getting to the departure location in the wee dark hours of the early morning, trying to find the bus, and realizing I left my printout of our receipt back in the hotel. I was able to locate it on my iPhone email, but it turned out we didn’t need it as we were registered.

After here and there, we finally connected with Edward, who was our archaeologist guide. What a delight he was! He was such a sweet, intelligent, informative and entertaining leader. He explained it was his first trip doing this after a hiatus having just welcoming his fourth daughter.

Edward explaining the history of the area

We boarded the Mercedes bus, which held about 20 people total, most of whom were Americans like us. Personally, I like it when it is mixed with different cultures to get different perspectives, but the group consisted of very nice and open people, for the most part.

Our first stop before entering Stonehenge was what is referred to as Woodhenge, a timber circle henge monument just outside Stonehenge. Edward explained the story of the tragic remains of a young child, most likely attributed to human sacrifice.

Edward at Woodhenge

Then on to Stonehenge where Edward regaled us with the history, archaeology, geography, migration, and anthropology of the site. If that sounds boring to you, believe me, Edward kept it alive and kicking. Who knew learning about Neolithic and Bronze-age history could be so sexy? The husband was in awe. Normally a quiet person, he was asking the most questions, and I joked that he became the teacher’s pet due to his intelligent questions. Here’s a link for more general details on Stonehenge.

We were actually surprised that Stonehenge was a bit smaller than we expected

After Stonehenge, we headed to the town of Bath to view the ancient Roman baths. The town itself is quite charming, and we stopped during a rainstorm to have lunch in a nice little pub. I think the disappointment of the day was in viewing the main site of the Roman baths, which the husband had been excited about. It was a long line in a museum-like environment, a bit claustrophobic and too “structured.” Much too crowded. Nice to see but nice to get out of quickly, too.

The Abbey in Bath
A human mannequin in Bath

The Roman Baths in Bath, UK
The pub in Bath where we had lunch

Our third and final stop was Avebury. Not just another Neolithic henge, but it contains the largest stone circle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avebury) and a lot of sheep shit, which I smelled on my shoes for the remainder or our European vacation. Not that I’m complaining, because it was a great stop and an educational adventure. One of the saddest historical comments was how people in the early modern age began to destroy many of the stone monuments for religious and political reasons. Some things never change. Then we ended up in a local pub, the Red Lion, with Edward and the rest of the group, and that was a lovely conclusion to our adventure.

Avebury
Ironically the man who bought this land built a chapel for religious reasons while destroying many of the stone structures for religious reasons.
Edward at the Red Lion, a very old pub in Avebury
Stephen and members of our group conversing with Edward at the very old pub Red Lion in Avebury
The future king’s portrait in the old pub in Avebury

As I have said before, we are not “tour” people, but this was a must-see tour that we both loved. Edward provided the insight that made it worthwhile, plus he was lovely and entertaining to boot. For the husband, I know it was his highlight of going to the UK, and I cannot argue with that.

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