Stonehenge: Ancient Rocks, Motorways and Velvet Ropes

Posted on 04. Jan, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, United Kingdom

Visiting Stonehenge is a bit of a mandatory step when visiting the UK for the first time. With such a mystique, intricate history, it attracts more than 800,000 visitors per year, some of which with high expectations.

Those people will definitely be disappointed.

visiting stonehenge
Early morning at Stonehenge

Stonehenge itself isn’t bad – the sheer fact that these rocks were probably hauled all the way from Wales back in 2000 B.C. is actually very impressive, to say the least. To this day, specialists still don’t agree with its vocation: was Stonehenge a healing temple, a  sun worshiping place, a burial site or a life-size calendar? No one knows for sure.

What’s not impressive, however, is the setting of the monument.

The nearby motorway definitely ruins the atmosphere of the visit – how can you concentrate on Neolithic rocks when all you hear is the buzzing of speeding cars? I don’t know who had the bright idea to trace not one, but two motorways there, but it definitely wasn’t is shining moment.

visiting Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Another contributing factor of disappointment when visiting Stonehenge is the distance from the rocks. I do understand the need to preserve the rocks, but is placing the rope 20 feet away really the best solution? I don’t know anyone who has an arm’s reach of 20 feet, or even 10 feet. I agree that a restriction is necessary, but really, 20+ feet? The only way to get up close and personal with the rocks is to convert to druidism and celebrate the solstice and equinox.

Anyone interested?

I was really sad when I left the site. Maybe because I was expecting too much, and hoped to feel the magic and mystique of its history. But it was very far from that. Maybe I should have visited the other henge

Have you ever considered visiting Stonehenge? What did you think of it? Have you faced similar disappointments in your travels?

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24 Responses to “Stonehenge: Ancient Rocks, Motorways and Velvet Ropes”

  1. Ross Corbett

    04. Jan, 2012

    I always like to picture them in the middle of nowhere with nobody else about but I have yet to visit Stonehenge for the reasons you mention.

    We should focus on how incredibly impressive it is that they got there in the first place but It’s not so special with cars whipping by and coach loads of tourists arriving.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      06. Jan, 2012

      I did try to focus on the magic of it, and it worked for a little while, until the humming of the cars got too loud :-)

      Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      In the end I did enjoy my visit for the sheer magic that surrounds the rocks’ history, but I couldn’t help being a little disappointed in the setting.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Laura

    05. Jan, 2012

    I agree that the distance to the rocks is way to big…. but i still loved to be there – it felt special…

    Reply to this comment
  3. Nancy Sathre-Vogel

    06. Jan, 2012

    I felt like that at Macchu Pichu. Everybody talks about how special it is, but I just didn’t feel the magic. We ended up going there on the winter solstice unknowingly, so were NOT expecting the massive crowds. We couldn’t even stop to take a picture because the masses were pushing us on, herding us like cattle.

    Sometimes you just have to go there anyway.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      06. Jan, 2012

      How disappointing! I heard the biggest cause of disappointment is the massive clouds in the morning. Was it your case?

      Reply to this comment
  4. Jade - OurOyster.com

    06. Jan, 2012

    Ive been to Stonehenge and I actually LOVED it, but I can totally understand why some people would be put off by it

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      06. Jan, 2012

      I did enjoy it in a way, but I feel it wasn’t optimal due to the ropes. But it wasn’t so bad :-)

      Reply to this comment
  5. John

    06. Jan, 2012

    If the rope wasn’t there at all there would be hundreds of people hugging the stones and feeling the energy or similar. If the rope was placed at 2 metres distance then photographers would not be able to get a shot without crowds of people in front of the stones. I feel the present system works we;ll.
    If you want to get close and personal with standing stones the stone circle built around Avebury is part of the same UNESCO listing and well worth a visit.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      06. Jan, 2012

      Now that you mention it, I do agree that it would be harder for photographers to get a good overall shot of the rocks if the ropes were closer to the rocks. But is that really the point when you visit Stonehenge? I feel like it would’ve been better if the ropes were a few feet closer, not necessarily non-existent. Maybe the magic would operate more at 10 feet rather than 20…

      Reply to this comment
  6. Kat

    06. Jan, 2012

    Sorry to hear you were so disappointed. I must admit though when you mentioned how far away the ropes were, as a photographer, my first thoughts were in line with John’s but then I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to stop people getting closer.
    I would recommend Avebury too. When I visted there was virtually nobody else there. That was a long time ago now though, so I hope it hasn’t changed. Maybe it’s time I went back?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      06. Jan, 2012

      I have heard of Avebury too, and most people seem to think it’s even better than Stonehenge because of it’s not as well known and “protected”. I ought to check it out!

      Reply to this comment
  7. I was expecting to feel disappointed because so many others talked it down, but I loved Stonehenge. Yeah, the highway really sucks, but if you can ignore that and get away from other people it’s a really magical area. :)

    Reply to this comment
  8. I find Stonehenge fascinating, but mostly I just giggle because it always reminds me of Spinal Tap. Did you see the recent news that geologists think they’ve located the place where the stones were originally taken from? I believe it’s in Wales…

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      Yes, geologists have known for a while that the rocks came from Wales, but never pinpointed exactly where until just recently. Science is amazing!

      Reply to this comment
  9. I was really impressed by Stonehenge. I think the ropes are good… have you seen National Lampoons European Vacation ;-)

    Reply to this comment
  10. Sophie

    10. Jan, 2012

    It is possible to arrange to get up close – and even hug the stones (by contacting English Heritage). There’s a fee, but well worth it. We got a 5 am slot and it was pure magic in the early morning mist and then sunrise. And hardly any cars :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jan, 2012

      I wish I had known about that! I thought special entries were for druids during the solstices only!

      Reply to this comment
  11. James - Ouroyster.com

    10. Jan, 2012

    I like Stonehenge I think it is an astonishing place

    Reply to this comment
  12. Like yourself, I was rather underwhelmed when I visited in 1999 during my first trip abroad. The traffic, the lines, the fact that you can’t get more than 20 feet to anything, the sound of the traffic…all contribute to a “touristy” feel that doesn’t give you the sense of spirituality and “epicness” that all the photos envoke.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      10. Jul, 2012

      Exactly! I thought this place was so eerie and special but the motorway ruined the experience.

      Reply to this comment

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