I’m wearing a blue Atari hoodie. I’ve got some kind of purple t-shirt on underneath.
The sky is overcast. It’s a typical British day. The camera’s sort-of top down, I’m looking up ever so slightly into it. My sister’s stood next to me, she’s looking square on at the camera, grey hoodie.
My parents – probably my Dad – is taking the pictures. Apple Photos says it’s a Panasonic camera. The date’s July 31st 2009, 10.30am and 26 seconds.
Behind me is Stonehenge.
Something about Stonehenge has always fascinated me. What’s it for? Who used it and why does it have what feels like an almost magical alignment with the stars?
I visited it again for the first time in 14 years last week – took the same photo. Stonehenge is behind. In front of me is Sue.
Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site, probably the most sophisticated stone circle in the world.
I remember as a kid watching tons of documentaries on Stonehenge, I actually wanted – for a brief fleeting moment – to become an archaeologist.
We have no idea what their original thinking was and their purpose might have changed because it took about 500 years to finish it off so during that time people’s ideas might have changed.
What I love about Stonehenge is that people have lived here, they’ve used the site, and they’ve been interested in it for thousands of years. People have also laid their own stories down, their own interpretations.
Some of them more historically sound than others, some interpretations more based on facts than fiction, but I think all of them are valid.
They didn’t write and they didn’t leave us any pictures so it’s anybody’s guess really what they were up to.
The stones reminds me of cycles within cycles. The turning of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the tide, high and low. There’s quite literally circles within circles at the site.
The first evidence that we have of humans in this exact location is some Mesolithic post holes. They’re the remains of holes that would have held some very big timber posts. They date back to about 8000 BC. Following that you have the cursus, which is a very very long earthwork which runs all the way along the back of the Stonehenge landscape. That dates to about 3300 BC. And then you have around about 3000 BC the henge monument itself was constructed. The henge is the ditch and bank that goes all the way around the outside of the monument. And then about 500 years later they brought the big stones and started to construct the monument as we see it today.
Both times I visited I couldn’t help but feel a deep connection with the past, with the recurring patterns that define humankind.
Civilisations have risen and fallen, countries formed and forgotten, wars have been fought, won and lost. We’ve explored the stars! We’ve come so far as a species and this monument, this magical mysterious monument has been a passive witness to the whole thing.
It’s unique, it tells us a story about the sophistication of the people which I think when we look back at 5,000 years we may think the people were very primitive but they weren’t. They were fabulous mathematicians, they were as clever as we are and how inspired they must have been to have thought of doing something like this.
There’s a sense of wonder in knowing that this monument has stood for thousands of years and my two photos, 14 years apart, just a very small blip on what hopefully is a very, very long standing future…
31 Oct 2023about podcast contact