There was a lot to see today. And all worth seeing. Let me just make one small lament and then I’ll get on to telling all about today: I WISH I HAD ANOTHER BATTERY FOR MY CAMERA! That is all. Once again it died before I could get all the pictures of the church. I must have the outside of it. So, any pictures of the inside of the Salibury Cathedral will have been taken by other Eurospring students. Photographers will be named under their picture.
Every day starts out with breakfast, so today it was an egg, a piece of bacon, a bowl of applesauce and then a glass of orange juice. Instead of going back up to the room, Aimee and I went on a mission to the ATM and to get orange juice. Something seems to be hitting the Eurospring students and now Aimee has what I had the first week or so. We both bought one bottle of Orange Juice from Tesco and made it back in time to catch the bus.
The first place we went to was Avebury, the older circle of stones. Dr. Chapman walked us around the circle of stone and told us one theory of how they got there.
Long ago there had been a wedding feast on a Saturday night. The wedding guests danced in a circle to a single musician. When Midnight came the musician said that he had t stop, because he couldn’t play on sun day. To the luck of the dancers another musician appeared who said, “I can play for you.” He took out his fiddle and played until sunrise. The dancers danced in the circle until the sun rose. When it was light they say that their musician had horns, and hoofed feet, and a tail. When they saw this they turned to stone where they stood in the circle. the dancers stand where they did all those years ago, save one night: Christmas Eve. On that night the dancers are allowed to go down to the river and get a drink.
Personally I like that story compared to whatever other reason people come up with. He pointed out cement stone markers that were placed where stones have gone missing over the ages. The village of Avebury is surrounded by an earthen ring that is taller than most of the stones. Dr. Chapman walked us around on half of the perimeter of the ring. The view was stunning. you could see for miles and you were far enough from any major city that the stars must be a sight to see.
After walking around the ring we were set free on the village. we didn’t have a lot of time so most of the group stayed around the gift shop. I didn’t buy anything here. I did find it odd that this gift shop sold Diabolos, a kinda juggling done with a spinner on a rope and two sticks. I didn’t stay by the shop. I wondered around by the church and its grave yard. The church wasn’t open to visitors and it was getting close to the time to leave. I walked through the graveyard and then headed back to the bus.
Our next stop was the more famous ring of stones. Stonehenge. Henge is the old English word for ring, so that explains why the stones are in a circle. then. They have changed things around since the last time Dr. Chapman had been there. Stonehenge now has a visitor’s center with a shuttle service out to the sight, normal coach buses aren’t allowed anywhere near the stones. Once you walk through the visitor’s center to get to the shuttle they are building a Neolithic village. right now they have four huts with different stages of thatched roofs. They also have a large stone on tree rollers, which is how they figure the stones were moved to the site.
There were two types of shuttle. One was a bus and the other was a land rover pulling three cars like a miniature train. coming up to Stonehenge I was expecting a feeling of… well, awe. But that feeling didn’t really happen. yes it was cool to be by these imposing stones but it was not what I thought it would be. I think this might be because they have the stones sectioned off and you can’t get within 200 paces of them. At Avebury you can go right up and touch the stones, here these stones are treated like fragile plates on a shelf.
By no means am I say not to go visit the site if you have the chance. I’m just saying don’t expect to feel the pull of an alien communication beam or any of the cosmic forces at work there. * I don’t put any stock in either of these theories.*
After leaving the stones, I hopped another shuttle to go back to the visitor’s center. I bought a poster of the stones at night from the gift shop. I had to get something from the place, it would have felt weird not to.
Our last stop of the day was the Salisbury Cathedral. The spire of the cathedral is 400 ft high and the whole church was built in the early English Gothic style. The structure is made of wood with stone on the outside, this was done to cut down on the weight of the building. And I can see why they had to do this. Dr. Chapman had one of the students run up to the doors while the rest of us stayed where we were. This was for a sense of scale, in the pictures you can’t even see the kid standing by the church wall.
The cathedral is in the shape of the cross and on the outside is covered in statues of angels, saints and other figures. Inside is far lighter than you would think for a church that size. But all the stain glass windows made it very light inside. All this pictures I took of the inside were done without flash.
Off to one side is possible the oldest and still working clock in all of Europe. Or so they claim. I admit it looks old but it only worked half way. The ticking mechanism still works but the side the operates the pulleys that used to ring the bells weren’t working when I was there. There was square fountain that looked like glass and had water pouring out the four corners. In the sides there were inscriptions that reminded me of a song we used to sing in church when I was a kid. Everywhere you stepped there was someone buried under the floor. Although the more important people had stone coffins with effigies along the center aisle or in the outer walls.
It was really cool that we got to hear this Cathedral’s Organ play and the starting of the choirs practice for the evening song. Shortly after this Aimee and I went back to the gift shop. Here I bought postcards of all the places we had been today, a CD of Gregorian Chants and a little owl book end. Now this may seem like an odd assortment of items but it makes sense to me. I did a presentation on Gregorian chants in a Dr. Swain class a semester or two back. I loved the sound of the sample I played for the class, I can only hope these sound as good as the one I fell in love with. As for the owl, I like owl things. I’ve seen the same type of owls in other stores but they were expensive. This little guy was ten pounds and he’s so cute. Yes I just said cute.
Purchases in hand I got back on the bus. we got back just in time for dinner. The food tonight was a Shepard’s pie with a potato top crust, meat, carrots and peas. There was also green beans and a cube of cake. I cleaned my plate, fresh air will make you hungry. When dinner was done Aimee and I retired to our room. It’s still early by most standards but I’m so tired. I aught to sleep well tonight!
Tomorrow we are off to London with one other person. The goal is to go to a church service at Westminster Abby and then hit other sites around the city. Can’t wait.
In case you missed the Links:
Stonehenge Visitor’s Center: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
Neolithic Village: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7078578.stm
Stonehenge Theories: http://www.livescience.com/27832-strange-theories-about-stonehenge.html
Salisbury Cathedral: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/salisbury-cathedral-and-magna-carta-p130493