a traveller's diary

Stonehenge and Salisbury

Hi guys!

We bloggers have often written about Stonehenge, for example at the summer solstice or when we talked about the discovery of an Australian Stonehenge… do you remember those posts?

During my study-holiday, I visited it!!! I was really excited!

My teachers have talked about this stone circle since primary school and I have seen lots of images about it, but watching it with my own eyes was another thing. It gave me the creeps…a place surrounded by mystery and history, charm but also unrest.

In spite of all the information written in many books, I couldn’t imagine that prehistoric men could lift such big stones. From the road, the megaliths seemed quite small but when I approached on foot, they completely overwhelmed me as ancient dragons!

The monument evolved between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC through three phases; it is thought that some stones were transported on rivers, others using sledges and ropes. As everyone knows, the stone circle is aligned with the summer sunrise and midwinter sunset, but its exact purpose is still a mystery: it could be a place of worship and celebration, an astronomical observatory or a place for human sacrifice. Who knows? 😉

After this fascinating stage, we went to Salisbury, a nice town near Stonehenge (which is on Salisbury plain). It’s famous above all for its cathedral, a medieval building visible from every direction,  which dominates the landscape for many miles, indeed it has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom; it also has the largest cloister and the world’s oldest working clock.

According to a legend, the Bishop of Old Sarum shot an arrow in the direction he would build the cathedral. The arrow hit a deer and the animal died where the cathedral is now. It was built in only one century, so it has one single architectural style, the early English Gothic. The town was built only after the cathedral.

And now I’d like to talk to you about one of the most important English (and not only!) documents: Magna Charta.

I discovered that the best preserved and most legible original of  Magna Charta belongs to Salisbury Cathedral! It was so exciting to see the old “piece of paper” which contains the basic principles of many constitutions: it was designed to rebalance the power between the King and the barons, stating for example fair trial before one’s equals (a recognition that the King is not above the law), the freedom of the Church to govern its own affairs, the righting of many abuses.

After these brief notes about Magna Charta, we can continue our travel 🙂

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