This will be a relatively brief post because we were doing our own thing at Stonehenge. There was no activity or tour for us to do, it was a just a chance to check out the exhibition and then walk, or in my case shuttle bus because it was raining, out to the stones to marvel at their mystery.
It’s a big pile of rocks, but they’re pretty cool rocks. I’d heard they’d put a fence around them and that you couldn’t get too close. I wasn’t excpecting the not even knee high little rope that stops you from walking up to them, I thought they meant big crazy fence which needs climbing to see anything. So I was happily surprised. And if you’re creative enough and you stand or kneel in the right spot you can take a photo that makes it look like there’s not hoards of people around.
The reality is that there is hoards of people around and many on them, myself included, are trying to take photos of each other, themselves and/or the stones. Those who aren’t trying to take pictures are generally listening to the audio guides available either as an app downloaded on your phone of a little tape recorder thing which costs you £3 at the ticket desk. It’s a pretty good audio guide and as you walk around the stones there are numbered points which match up to the numbered recordings that you can play and describes this relevant to the spot you are standing.
I quite liked Stonehenge, but I did feel that the number of people around detracted from the impact of the site. I know there’s not much they can do about it because so many people want to see it, but if there were less people and an opportunity to just sit and look and contemplate the stones then I think it would have more resonance (wow factor) with people. I get the feeling it’s very much a point for people to tick off a bucket list and they’re not really getting much more out of it than being able to say “yes, I’ve been to Stonehenge”, which I think is a bit of a shame.
Apart from that the exhibition space was well done but nothing particularly exciting. What I did really enjoy was the temporary exhibition called ‘wish you were here’ which explored the way Stonehenge has been viewed as a tourist attraction and cultural icon since Victorian times. It’s been used to adorn everything from soaps to postcards, to comic books, to clothing to some truly hideous bright pink or green 1920s ceramics. It was interesting how each generation has adapted the idea of it and posed questions about what it was used for. It makes a great mysterious supernatural setting for comic book super heroes and murder mysteries.
Overall definitely worth having a look, but try not to be disappointed by the crowds.