Back again after another long delay. As promised, I want to share my visit to Stonehenge, but before that, I want to let you know about a few new published pieces. First off, Sailing Magazine has published my article on Bodacious Dream and the circumnavigation in their new November issue.
Sailing Magazine has its home in Port Washington, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan, my home waters. It’s a well-respected magazine that shares the beauty of sailing and racing through photos and stories, along with a lot of great information and advice on equipment as well as boat reviews. We’ll let you know if and when they publish it online, but if you come across a copy of the magazine, check it out!
Also, this month the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School (HIOBS) Blog has posted an interview with me where I talk about the circumnavigation, but also about how the time I spent at HIOBS in my teens prepared me for facing the various mental and physical challenges that attend to ocean racing and distance sailing. The new interview on their blog is right HERE! And if you’d like to dip back into the archive, an earlier post from March describes my whole Outward Bound Story.
So now, onto Stonehenge!
When last we left it, Matt Scharl and I had sailed Bodacious Dream to Hamble, England where we finished taking care of her, preparing her for her stay. With a spare day before my return to the US, I drove to Stonehenge, about 45 miles from Hamble. I punched the coordinates into the GPS and followed the gentle, British-accented female voice, turn by turn through the beautiful countryside, trying hard to stay on the “wrong” side of the road! Fortunately, many of the roads are less than two lanes wide, making it much easier to stay in your lane!
Late in the afternoon, I came over a rise on the motorway and off to the side of the road you could see that great and iconic circle of stones we instantly recognize as Stonehenge. A few more miles drive to the visitor’s center gave me time to reflect on the amazing history I was about to witness.
The history of Stonehenge has fascinated me since I first learned of it, at some point in my youth and likely through National Geographic magazine. On this day, the broken overcast, grey blue skies and late afternoon light against the bright green rolling hills cast a perfect backdrop for me to explore up-close the mystery of Stonehenge. It was easy to imagine ancient peoples gathering here to commemorate and celebrate events in their community’s lives.
The building of Stonehenge began some 5000 years ago and evolved over the course of the next few thousand years. The original layout of upright wooden logs was eventually replaced with the large stones moved some 250 miles to the present location. At various times in history, stones were moved or rearranged and additional stones brought in, which modern historians believe provided “healing” inspiration for the people at Stonehenge. The surrounding countryside is dotted with burial mounds and depressions indicating roads or avenues connecting the river to Stonehenge. All these mysterious ruins give sustenance to imaginative debates on what actually happened there… and unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the mysteries remain largely unanswered.
Pictures tell more of the story and in the presence of the intimidating intentions of these ancient people, my staying quiet, listening and feeling the earth seemed the wiser course than going off on wild speculating. The greatest things in life are often not very loud!
Finishing my walk around the perimeter of Stonehenge, I drove off again across the English countryside, past the various burial mounds that seem nonchalantly placed in no particular pattern. What had taken place here? Why here? Was there something more significant to this particular plot of land? Was this a place of worship or celebration? There are so many wonders in the world… isn’t it fascinating that we get the chance to exercise such questions and feelings?
I awoke early the next morning with a plan to return to London and Heathrow Airport for my flight home, but had one more stop to make. Winchester Cathedral is an amazing building and the location of the grave of the famous English author, Jane Austen.
As a builder, I remain forever amazed at the ingenious engineering and workmanship that went into building the great Gothic-era cathedrals of Europe. These astonishing buildings, some over a thousand years old, were built over the course of generations by villages of craftsmen as a testament to their communities, their religion and their skills.
Here are some more photographs of majestic Winchester Cathedral.
As I drove off to catch my flight, it occurred to me that perhaps both Stonehenge and Winchester Cathedral stood as monuments to people’s faith and belief in providence. Though each was so entirely different in design, they felt to me equal in how they spoke to mankind impulse to challenge itself in extraordinary ways. Though Stonehenge stands small in comparison to Winchester, it felt equally grand when you consider the technology and engineering of its time.
So, I will leave you with this last question that still haunts me. We know the history of Winchester Cathedral. Is the historical speculation around Stonehenge similar to it, or might there be something much more intriguing (and still unknown) going on in earth’s history to which we are no longer aware?