Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mystical England

Although crop circles have been the most popular media topic as of late, England has a long history of curious and mysterious structures that defy explanation or are just plain interesting.  The most well known is Stonehenge but there is also Avebury, Silbury Hill, the Rollright Stones, Ley Lines and the White Chalk drawings that dot the hillsides.

Stonehenge is our first stop.  Situated on a large plain southwest of  London, it is the most famous of all mystical structures although over 900 hundred stone rings exist in the British Isles.

The structure and engineering of the circle required great mathematical sophistication.  The circle aligns with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset.  There are two types of stone used in its construction.  The "Bluestones" weigh as much as 4 tons and were brought from 240 miles away.  The Sarsen stones average 18 feet and weigh 25 tons.  It is estimated that it required more than 30 million hours of labor.

Visitors to the site used to be able to go up to the stones but due to their increasing popularity the site is now fenced and visitors must walk around them from a distance.

One of my favorite sites is the White Chalk Horse on Cherhill.  There are several of them throughout the area and only one is known to be of prehistoric origin.  Although many are only a few hundred years old, they are a striking and unusual addition to the landscape.

Avebury is the largest stone circle in Europe and dates back to around 2600 BCE.  Archaeologists believe it was once a ceremonial or religious site.  Today it is a tourist destination and  a place of religious importance to contemporary pagans.

I have to admit that the pagan below totally creeped me out so I had to sneak a picture from the back.

Avebury is believed to be part of a larger prehistoric landscape including nearby Silbury Hill and was effectively abandoned during the Iron Age.

Silbury Hill is another mystery found in the English countryside.  It has been dated 2400 BCE and is 120 feet high, similar in size to some of the smaller pyramids at Giza.  Although numerous excavations have been made, no artifacts have ever been found.  Theories abound but no one knows why it was built.

Ley Line theories are related to the concepts of Feng Shui.  The alignment of monuments and natural landscapes have been embraced by New Age believers as having spiritual powers.  This Church in Stanton is thought to be an area where the lines converge. (There is a site considered to be more accurate on a nearby hill where believers have created some kind of throne.  That creeped me out.)  Personally I liked the Church where the magnetic field was supposed to be intensified by standing on the rectangular area on the floor that leads to the altar.

The Rollright Stones are our final destination and I will tell you that this place REALLY creeps me out.  I cannot explain it but do not like it and can't get away fast enough.  The day we went was a nice day but this place was absolutely freezing adding to its creepiness.  Add to that, on a previous visit, a friend's camera battery went dead unexpectedly and when she got it going again there were a bunch of ghostly orbs in her pictures which was enough for me.  I do not like this place at all.

There are three different sets of stones all dating from different periods stretching from 4000-2000 BC.  It is said that you cannot count the stones because each time you get a different answer.  Frankly, I didn't count anything.  I took a couple of photos and ran back to the car!

Exit, stage left!!!!

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