Thursday, October 16, 2014
I graduated from college in 1971 and went to England for a week or two that fall, wandering around mostly in the south, traveling by bus. One place I visited was Salisbury, and on a fine fair day I took a local bus out from that town to see the ruins of Old Sarum. I decided to walk from there to Stonehenge. It was a peaceful walk that brought me at last to a hilltop above a vast sweeping plain. But where was the great stone monument? Ah, there it was, remote in the distance, slowly growing in size and power as I walked toward it, as its worshippers must have seen it rise up before them thousands of years ago. I stopped at the visitor center briefly, then crossed under the highway and walked up to and in among the towering stones. Yes, among them -- this was 1971, as I said, and the henge was not fenced off from the public till 1977. (One lucky enough to score a ticket can still go among the stones -- though not touch them -- during tightly limited special access times.) There weren't a lot of other people there. It was quietly amazing. I explored and marvelled, then went back to the visitor center and caught a bus back to Salisbury. That was 43 years ago, and I still think about that experience whenever, as happened tonight, I see a TV show about Stonehenge, and I feel fortunate beyond words to have walked there so long ago.