Landscape of Prehistoric Sites

It was still dark night when I was approaching on foot to one of the most famous prehistoric monument in the world. Traffic consisting mainly of lorries on the road A303 which passes in close proximity to the site was already relentless. Ahead I could make up silhouette of stone circle and behind it a new day was gradually coming up in the eastern sky. When I reached the fenced monument I contemplated on morning mist hovering in the fields below. The mist was resembling translucent blanket slowly changing form and position to a point of disappearing completely and revealing scenery in greater detail.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

I was not alone here. In my view lonely and freezing security guard was moving in circles around the monument. At least in my mind, walking in his boots in these times of day, I could imagine that the surrounding landscape must present him with different moods and lighting conditions every single day. When first rays of rising sun touched Stonehenge, a large group of people suddenly appeared and quickly dispersed on the site. They came to enjoy rare one hour experience of being here; an experience enabled by English Heritage (the charitable organization responsible for looking after this monument and other sites in England). A special ticket which they had to purchase, double the normal price set to view the monument, entitled them to wander around and within the stone circle that is usually out of bounds to ordinary visitors who are only permitted to a designated pathway well off the stone structure.

Time was up for these visitants. Bathing in sunshine the group went back to the minibuses they boarded at nearby Visitor centre that largely facilitates access to Stonehenge. But there is so much more to explore around here as this landscape is saturated by various other sites concealed within it and connected to different eras of human habitation in this area. Stonehenge is however, at the very top of hierarchy among British prehistoric sites mainly for its would-be completeness, monumentality and variety of unearthed stories attached to this site which began as an earthwork enclosure on Salisbury plain about 3000 BCE.

There are many more prehistoric sites spread around the whole British Isles. In fact the countryside is dotted by standing stones, tombs, stone circles, dolmens, barrows, mounds or forts. These are highly interesting to archaeologists or historians whose perspectives and interpretations get updated with each and every discovery including scientific and technological advances and their subsequent application for new research that as a result enable us to better understand our history and to an extent our future as well. Many people however, visit these sites for various other purposes including reenacting ancient rites, noting of solstices and equinoxes, keeping up with their roots and identities or simple curiosity.

I myself slept within a stone circle near megalithic tomb in Ireland and in the second half of night got soaked up by rain for daring so. In Pembrokeshire in Wales, I walked in the Preseli hills, an area designated by geologist Herbert Henry Thomas in 1923 as a source of bluestones (dolerite) which are placed in the inner circle of Stonehenge. And I am certainly not alone in seeking unique experiences in prehistoric landscapes. Recently in Avebury, its rather large stone circle drawn in many people during first spring day full of sunshine. However, all of our wanderings and appreciations of spirit of the place are possible only for generations of custodians taking care of these landscapes and monuments throughout the ages - be it farmers, clergy and other enlightened people or institutions of present-day.

Traveling to different sites on British isles has enabled me to view in context significant era of human development and acknowledge extraordinary effort of our predecessors who, perhaps unintentionally, left behind a legacy in stonework which as raw rock was created by geological processes even deeper in time.

Preseli hills, Pembrokeshire

Preseli hills, Pembrokeshire

Stonehenge visitor centre, Wiltshire

Stonehenge visitor centre, Wiltshire

Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire

Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire

Avebury stone circle (fragment), Wiltshire

Avebury stone circle (fragment), Wiltshire

Avebury stone circle (fragments), Wiltshire

Avebury stone circle (fragments), Wiltshire

The Longstones, Beckhampton Avenue near Avebury, Wiltshire

The Longstones, Beckhampton Avenue near Avebury, Wiltshire

West Kennet Long Barrow, Wiltshire

West Kennet Long Barrow, Wiltshire

Zennor Quoit, Cornwall

Zennor Quoit, Cornwall

Chun Quoit, Cornwall

Chun Quoit, Cornwall

Castlerigg stone circle, Lake District

Castlerigg stone circle, Lake District

Stonehenge, Wiltshire