Visiting Stonehenge, to me, is like meeting the Queen of England.
I’ve seen them on pages of magazines and newspapers, but for many reasons, they are inaccessible to me. They are icons of Great Britain, symbols of the nation’s history, although one represents the past while another the present.
Speculated to have been built as far as 3000 BC, there are a great many mysteries surrounding Stonehenge, from who built the first
construction of the stone monument, to how and why they were built. Although many Stonehenge-like constructions have been found around the country, the original Stonehenge remained legendary. Among the theories regarding Stonehenge was that it had been built as a burial ground during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Others (and probably the most famous theory) was that it served as a worship site for Druids. Arthurian enthusiasts might remember allegations that Merlin the wizard had helped build Stonehenge at some point of its existence.
It was a windy Tuesday morning when I arrived in Wiltshire, England. We had just landed in Heathrow about four hours previously, and after an hour’s delay, we were driven out of the airport by our guide and headed towards Wales. Our initial destination was Cardiff, but Stonehenge will be our stop before continuing our journey south. The brief highway drive was soon replaced by the classic English countryside, the sky a dull grey and the air outside made even colder by the wind. I was simply looking out of the window, the feeling of anticipation increasing by every mile. My heart was humming in my ear- I was on my way to one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites!
I saw it right from a distance, while we were still in the car, but it was there- majestic, mysterious and beautiful- exactly like the pictures and photos I’ve seen in magazines or National Geographic programs. . It stood upon a green field, just a little way off the roadside, with the cool September sky framing the grassy plain surrounding it. At the risk of sounding like a drama queen, my breath did get caught in my throat. I suppose this must be what it feels like to be star-struck, except I was Stonehenge-struck, I guess.
Although we were not allowed to actually enter the structure, I managed to take a close enough look. As we were informed at the entrance, Stonehenge consisted of two types of stones. The stones was smooth-looking, almost like what we Malays call “batu sungai‘ (river stone). The few lone stones around the site suggested that Stonehenge might have been bigger than it was today. I took a long slow stroll around the monument, taking in every inch of the structure, savouring every moment. Even with an electronic assistant device offering me various information about Stonehenge, questions keep popping into my mind as I curiously eyed the serene-looking blocks of stone. What was it really like to be here, for all these centuries? What are the things it had seen? Who did it meet? If only those stones could talk….
As we left and headed for Wales, my thoughts were still with Stonehenge. How I wish I could have stood inside the structure, to take in the building from within, perhaps envision what it was like for those who had lived in its heyday. But hey, at least I get to learn one thing about myself: other people get excited when they meet a celebrity or a public figure. Me, I get breathless when encountering a historical artifact.