One of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World, Stonehenge is a prehistoric stone circle a two-hour drive away from London and has been on my bucketlist since my family was supposed to visit England a few years ago.
Although if you break it down Stonehenge is really just a big bunch of rocks, they really are a bizarre sight when you consider the rocks are in a field in the middle of nowhere. Looking at them will make you wonder how people from the medieval days stacked these rocks, weighing four tons each, on top of one another without any sort of technological contraption.
The Stonehenge is a British cultural icon and was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Archaeologists believe it was constructed from around 3000 to 2000 BC, though they aren’t quite sure how, and that it was used for burial, ancient astronomy, or religious processions (though I did learn in my Art and Archeology class that archaeologists arbitrarily attribute things to “rituals” when they aren’t 100% sure of their purpose).
Tourists used to be able to touch the stones but over the years the English Heritage decided it was best to close the stone circle off for preservation’s sake. However, visitors are still able to book access to Stonehenge’s inner circle, including during sunrise and sunset, for a higher price.
A short drive from Stonehenge was Avesbury, another Neolithic monument, which contained three stone circles. You can touch these stones, but it’s not as impressive as Stonehenge (there were a lot fewer people). There was also a lot of sheep and dog poop on the ground that made it hard to navigate through.
Along our way to Bath, we also stopped at Lacock Abbey, a small picturesque town where some of the scenes from Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice were filmed. Many families were out with their kids on little bicycles, licking ice cream in the 15-degree weather as they lingered past golden leaves dusted on the pavement.
At Bath, we drove around the city to get a feel of its Roman-inspired copper facades and 18th-century Georgian buildings. We came upon the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses organized in a wide, sweeping crescent, as well as Bath Abbey, an ornate monastic church.
Bath, or Aquae Sulis, was founded by ancient Celts and is most known for its thermal bath spas, built below street level and for the goddess Minerva. Inside the Roman baths was a museum that walked you through the history of the structure before leading you to the bath itself.
Before we went inside the baths, our tour guide gave us some advice.
“Inside, there will be signs that say don’t touch the water,” he said. “Touch the water.”
Touch the water we did. And so did a lot of other tourists. We all took pictures of us doing it, too. The water was warm, but not boiling hot. At the end of the museum there was a gift shop where my parents were spending an exorbitant amount of time at, so I left to wander the streets. I bought myself a pain au chocolat and came upon the Avon River and its cascading falls, dimmed by the overcast clouds and grey sky but nevertheless tranquil.
Stonehenge and Bath is one of the must-do day trips from London. Though it would probably be more inspiring for those inclined to history, it was a worthwhile trip. If anything, I got to check it off my bucketlist.