Overlooking the Columbia River along the south border of Washington State is a concrete monument called the Maryhill Stonehenge.  Built by millionaire Samuel Hill (and named for his wife), it’s a scale replica of the real Stonehenge.  It’s even astronomically aligned with the summer solstice.  It was dedicated to fallen World War I soldiers in 1918 because Hill had heard Stonehenge was a place of human sacrifice, and he wanted to remind others of the sacrifice of war.  I saw it a few times from a distance as a child.  It always looked so mysterious, standing alone in the arid hills above the river.  So I guess it’s no surprise that I wanted to visit Stonehenge on my first trip to England.

chalkhorseSometimes, a tour is the best choice when time and funds are limited.  But whenever possible, I avoid large tours…feels too much like cattle.  I found a really great four-hour Scarper Tours bus from Bath.  Highly recommended!  It was a tiny purple bus, seating about 24 people max.  The driver was really friendly and knowledgeable.  That’s a white chalk horse on the left, pointed out by the driver.  I would never have seen it on my own.

tankxingWe traveled for about an hour (each way) through lovely countryside with sheep and picturesque villages, finally arriving at the Salisbury Plain, a chalk plateau.  The first thing I noticed on the plain was a tank crossing sign.  No tanks in sight, though.

StonehengeThe visitor’s center passed out maps and audio guides, and we were directed to a large circular path around the perimeter of the stones.  Knowing that we would not be able to get close to the stones or (heaven forbid) touch them, I was not expecting to enjoy the visit that much.  Turns out it didn’t matter at all.  I loved every minute of it.

Stone1The approach is from the north, which is quickly evident from all the moss on the stones.  I loved the moss.  It made the stones seem more mysterious.  The walk around the path took about forty-five minutes because I listened to all of the audio prompts.  The skies were gorgeous.  It was really cold and windy, but nobody seemed to be in a hurry. There’s just something inspiring about standing there next to those big rocks.

Stone2I took a ridiculous amount of pictures because the stone circle looks different from every angle.  Once I got around to the south side of the circle, the stones were bare and standing up straighter than they were on the other side.  Many of the typical beauty shots of Stonehenge seem to be taken from the south side.  However, I prefer the north side.  (More character.)  These are some of my favorite photos from that day.

HeelstoneJust at the edge of the nearby road is the heel stone, which I think resembles a fish head.  Maybe it’s a huge stone troll, sleeping until it’s awakened by a naughty child.Stonepic

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