Stonehenge looms so large in the popular imagination, I suppose it's inevitable that it be less than expected when you actually see first it in the real world. As our tour bus crested the Wiltshire hill and there the stone circle was, just off the road ahead, our first thoughts were: is that all there is to it?
Of course, its size isn't apparent at that distance, and its somber architecture is only fully appreciated by walking around it. But I think that part of the reason most visitors initially expect something larger and more dramatic is that they're used to seeing it photographed from more awe-inspiring angles, with appropriately framed backgrounds, and, most likely, with telephoto lenses. As we got closer to the henge, the initial underwhelming feeling was replaced by an appreciation in keeping with the site's reputation, and we were very glad we made the trip.
Part of our puzzlement also no doubt rose from the dearth of tourist development surrounding Stonehenge: if such a site were located in the U.S., sadly, we didn't think it could be displayed in such an almost pristine condition. There are amenities at the site, but only of a rather rudimentary sort—a gift shop, given the site's fame, that's quite small, a correspondingly modest car park, and some welcome rest stop facilities. But, except for the parking area, everything is underground, so the plain surrounding the the stones remains amazingly unspoiled. We were almost as impressed with this restrained development as we were with the henge itself!
Not surprisingly, we took a lot of pictures at Stonehenge, especially considering that we were only there about an hour. This page displays some of my favorites, and you can see larger versions of them, and many more, in this Flickr set. I've arranged the photos here from long-shots to close-ups. In the Flickr set, I've set the photos more or less in the sequence in which they were taken, with mine first, then Henry's, so that you can follow our perambulations around the henge with us. Here is the blog post that covers our trip to Stonehenge and Bath, with Stonehenge impressions first. I also compiled a collection of Stonehenge photos in this Favorite Fotos blog post.
First, two of our best long shots, with a glimpse of the amazingly undeveloped surrounding countryside in between:
Now, a bit closer. Note the atmosphere-enhancing birds, especially noticeable in the bottom shot:
Another trio, moving closer:
And, finally, we zoom in on some smaller sections, including one of the outlying rocks that the path (to which you're restricted) goes right by:
We thought the weather during our visit was perfect, and didn't mind not getting to see the sun in relation to any of the structures. The gray overcast, the wind, the birds—all added to the mystical beauty of the site.
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