Dispatch: Salisbury, Stonehenge and Unexpected Treasures
If you happen to have the opportunity to deviate just a bit from your itinerary, please do. You may just happen upon a cathedral that you can’t help but believe was created just for you, for that one moment that you walk amid its graces.
That’s what I selfishly thought as I meandered through English roads towards a towering steeple in Salisbury.
Those in the know understand exactly where this jaunt ends—at the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral, the single greatest building I have ever seen.
And this isn’t just holiday hyperbole. The grandiose cathedral is that stunning.
It towers higher than any measurement could do justice and shadows verdant grounds that demand you take a second on one of the provided benches so you can contemplate like evolution intended.
And this was supposed to be a throwaway occasion, an opportunity to pick up our rental car and depart for Stonehenge and eventually Bath.
Instead, the wife and I decided it would be prudent to see what Salisbury had to offer, giving the proverbial “What the hell; we are here anyway” before searching for the cathedral.
When you find it, you are immediately gobsmacked by the sheer size and intricate architecture that went into this massive edifice. But don’t meander outside for too long, because there are historical treasures of note awaiting inside, namely the Magna Carta—or one of four remaining copies thereof.
It sits in a small room that is adorned with intricate tile on the floor and amazingly vibrant stained glass along the walls. It’s hard not to feel a tad proud of what humans are capable of when they have the time, money and wherewithal. Which brings me to the second stop on a very full day.
Stonehenge sits on a gentle hill surrounded lush fields in Amesbury. Answers as to whether I should see this human-made marvel ranged from “It’s a must-see” to “Go and see it if you crave the excitement that is several static stones just lying around.” So, you could say, I was a tad apprehensive about seeing Stonehenge on an already packed itinerary.
I don’t dare give you an answer as to whether you should go and have a look at what man decided to build in a rather tireless way centuries ago. But I will give you a brief breakdown on how I felt.
You walk upon the landmark after a brief bus ride and are immediately filled with nostalgia you didn’t know was there. This is something you know intimately from so many pictures but, rather oddly, have never seen in person.
Now you can no longer walk through the massive stones, but that’s hardly a negative when you consider preservation is at the heart of that decision.
Instead, you listen to an audio breakdown of Stonehenge as you walk slowly around its picturesque perimeter. Gradually you start to see mounds that are barrows, or burial grounds, ditches that hold historical significance and holes that you would have missed if you meandered just a few steps faster.
By the end of your journey around the giants rocks you realize that you are standing in a wide swath of land that has had held significance to humanity for longer than you can contemplate without scratching your head.
Stones were dragged hundreds of miles, put in place over hundreds of years and left with the perfect amount of mystery we silly humans so adore.
I hopped in my rental car, headed for Bath a few hours later than I had intended. Not that they were wasted hours, because I take with me a renewed appreciation for the human spirit and what we are all capable of when we are determined.
More by Gabe Zaldivar
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