Monday, October 24, 2011

Stonehenge via Mad Max

In Lacock, UK

Stonehenge is only about an hour away from Bath, and there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to see it.   Little did I realize that Stonehenge wouldn’t even be the best part of the tour!   This is one of the very few things that I booked before I left (note my previous post.)

I took the ‘Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circles Full Day Tour’ with Mad Max Tours, and if you’ve never been you may be surprised to find that we only spent 45 minutes at Stonehenge.  To start, the tour guide was excellent!  (I feel awful for not recalling his name, but being that I’m writing this a year later, I don’t feel THAT bad.)

Interesting fact: The name Stonehenge actually has a meaning.  A henge is a big ditch around a circular flat, typically with a monument of some sort inside.  So while what we all notice at first glance are the big boulders, if you look again, you’ll also see a ‘henge’ around them, hence ‘stone-henge’.  There are archeological studies that have determined there was also a ‘wood-henge’ located there before Stonehenge.

Stonehenge was cool to visit and take pictures with, but what was really impressive was where we went next, Avebury.  Avebury is basically an enormous ‘Stone-henge’ with a town located inside.   It was created sometime around 2600 BC.  Unfortunately, it was in large part destroyed in the 1300’s at the request of the local preist.  What remains are a small percentage of the original stones still standing, a portion that had been tipped over repositioned, and the missing remainder identified with waist high cement markers.   And with a henge about 35 feet deep!  Stonehenge was curious but Avebury was surreal.

Henge at Avebury
Our next stop was Lacock, a small, quintessentially English city owned by The National Trust. This was our lunch stop as well, and I had the most amazing meal at ‘The George Inn.’  I don’t recall exactly what it was, but it was the Special of the Day and I don’t think you could find a more filling, think of your mom’s cooking on a cold day, incredibly delicious dish.   Not to mention the Inn has a history dating back to 1361 and was brimming with English charm.  On a fun note, Lacock is often used as a filming location, and can be seen in such films as Harry Potter and BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.  Another fun fact: the first photographic negative was created there over 175 years ago!

Corner in Lacock Village
The tour took us all around the Cotswolds, which is a region of England that is known to be ‘quintessentially English’ and that has retained its traditional charm and historical feel.  As we drove around we also passed some crop circles, the Wiltshire White Horses, and through Castle Combe.  Castle Combe in short, is a single street designated as the ‘Prettiest Village in England.’  One of my favorite things to see though were the traditional thatched roofs – yes they still have them!  We were even lucky enough to see a thatcher at work!

Garden in Castle Combe
I met some really remarkable people on the tour and would highly recommend if you are in the region to take a tour with Mad Max.  Everything we saw was amazing, the trip was well organized and the tour guide was a blast!

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