Great UK Family Road Trip – Stonehenge

Day 6: Weymouth. Max 15°C to Min 9°C.

J went out for a morning run while Little E and I were still sleeping soundly. He explored the town of Weymouth, crossed the Town Bridge, past the North Forte, and went all the way to the Weymouth Stone Pier, enjoying the serene morning atmosphere.

He came back, in time to enjoy a very satisfying breakfast at the café in the B&B we stayed in.

Breakfast at Weymouth

As there were no tables big enough to fit all 11 of us, we slowly savoured our delicious breakfast and enjoyed the hearty shares of conversation over 2 nearly adjacent tables.

After the filling breakfast, we went to the Stonehenge with Dad and Mum. Stonehenge has been on our bucket list since J and I decided to visit the wonders of the world when we started dating. I was all agog once the decision was made and couldn’t help but feel so blessed to be able to visit this world famous World Heritage prehistoric monument. It’s hard not to feel a certain level of excitement when you know you’re about to see Stonehenge.

Stonehenge entrance

On arrival at the visitor centre, we were drawn to the world-class exhibition which was divided into 2 segments: before we entered the gallery, we had the opportunity to “stand within the stones” and enjoyed a 360° virtual experience of summer and winter solstices inside the ancient monument through the use of state-of-the-art laser scans.

Stonehenge exhibition centre - 360-degree virtual experience

Then we were absorbed by the grand display of hundreds of prehistoric objects housed within the gallery from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Before we took the free shuttle to reach the prehistoric site of Stonehenge, we found ourselves just in time to watch an interactive fun theatrical performance that attempted to unravel the mysteries of Stonehenge through recreating the auction that happened in 1915 when the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe was put up for sale. The play which only ran for 1 week was specially developed for English Heritage as it marked the 100th anniversary of Stonehenge after it was sold at an auction to local Wiltshire man Cecil Chubb. The auction marked a turning point in the care of the ancient monument. A series of major restorations and excavations began a few years later and Stonehenge went from isolated ruins to national treasure. Today it is cared for by English Heritage, and thanks to extensive work, now sits within a restored landscape that gives a sense of its original setting. As it was drizzling, the play was performed in the café instead of outside the Visitor Centre. Not a bad thing after all! we bought a cornish pasty as a snack to share while watching the performance!

As the shuttle approached the prehistoric site which was about 2 km from the Visitor Centre, we were all intrigued when we saw the Stonehenge slowly emerge on the horizon. We could have alighted and walked from half-way, or walked the whole way while soaking up the atmosphere of the ancient landscape. However, we decided to take the bus ride all the way for the sake of our little one.

Stonehenge

With a history spanning 4,500 years, the Stonehenge is a wonder of the world, a spiritual place and a source of inspiration to many. We were so blessed to be able to explore the ancient landscape on foot!

JREDM at Stonehenge

It was not easy to take a picture with the Stonehenge without having any photo bombers included in the photo. The above was the best we could find in our camera roll, t’was a pity Little E was looking down…

We walked around the Stonehenge, planting our footsteps upon the ancient landscape that surrounds it, all the while listening to the free audio tour downloaded into our iPhones.Stonehenge up close

The Stone Circle is such an intriguing masterpiece of engineering. Building it would have taken tremendous effort from hundreds of well-organised people using only simple tools and technologies back in those olden days!

Another view of the Stonehenge up close

As we explored and pondered the story of the gigantic stones, the vast ancient landscape surrounding the captivating monument, the neolithic people who assembled it, and the meaning of Stonehenge, Little E dozed off into dreamland…

Little E was here!

When we finished exploring the Stonehenge, the captivating prehistoric monument with its riveting history and possible explanations left us feeling fascinated and pining for more low-down on the masterpiece. The shuttle bus took us back to the Visitor Centre and we alighted outside the Exhibition Centre, where we were greeted by 5 shacks.

Neolithic houses

The dwellings are furnished with replica Neolithic axes, pottery and other artefacts. Our curious minds were fed as these Neolithic houses reveal the type of homes that the builders of the ancient monument might have lived in 4,500 years ago. We could imagine what life would have been like for a Neolithic family when we went inside the Neolithic houses to have a feel of the tools they used for daily living.

These recreated houses are closely based on the remains of Neolithic houses discovered during excavations in 2006 and 2007 at Durrington Walls, a large ceremonial earthwork enclosure, just over a mile to the north-east of Stonehenge. Radiocarbon dating showed that these buildings were built at around the same time as the large sarsen stones were being put up at Stonehenge, in approximately 2,500 BC. A ginormous Sarsen stone can be found right outside the Visitor Centre, a model stone showing one way in which the sarsen stones (which have an average weight of 25 tons) could have been moved.

Dad and J attempted to move the stone

Dad and J attempted to move the Sarsen stone which could have required 100 strong men to move it. The electronic indicator meant to measure the pulling force exerted, specified they needed 95 more men together with them to move the large boulder. Hey! We are just talking about moving it, what about erecting it and assembling it?!!!

The Stonehenge Experience

Many historians have puzzled over why Stonehenge was created, by attempting to unravel the mystery behind the building of this monument. Not surprisingly, plenty of theories were hypothesised. Was it an ancient temple, a burial ground, a place of healing or a site of ritual? With no written records from the time, it is impossible to know for sure. Nonetheless, piecing together this ancient jigsaw puzzle was a fascinating experience. It was interesting to play prehistoric detectives as we wandered around the site which covers a large area consisting of Neolithic remains, burial mounds and assorted ruins. Strangely, despite the huge crowd present, the experience with Stonehenge is peaceful and intimate, allowing you to get as close to the stones as it is possible and to understand how each piece fits together.

Chesil Beach

While we were at Stonehenge, JMIDM and Shen rented bikes and rode along the Rodwell Trail which is a nice off-road trail through Weymouth using a disused railway track, with the intention to arrive at and explore the Chesil Beach, bracing fresh air and wrapped up in the grandeur of natural beauty.

Chesil Beach

The Chesil Beach is part of and lies east on the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site among other natural wonders of the world. Laced with an intriguing geology and history, the Chesil Beach is an extraordinary, narrow stretch of millions of shingle about 27 km long, that have been washed up by storms and forms a barrier ridge with a lagoon behind it.

Chesil Beach

For our group of 11, to visit 2 World Heritage sites within a day, would have been too rushed. Hence, we split into 2 groups. Since JMIDM and Shen had visited the Stonehenge many years ago (before the revamp), it was understandable that they chose to see part of the Jurassic Coast and experience the natural wonder. For us who have not been to both, the lure of the Stonehenge was irresistible.

After half a day and having bagged 2 World Heritage sites into our travelogues, all of us reunited back in Weymouth, and we hopped onto their bikes for a little bit of cycling and to feel the breeze tousling our hair before JMIDM and Shen had to return them. Well, as the saying goes, “Breezy days deserve the union of two old friends”, the breeze that day saw our blessed reunion of all eleven of us, after a long day of experiential learning and discovery.

The day was short, it was dark by 5:30 pm. The strikingly dazzling lights from the funfair a distance away beckoned to us. We bought tickets for Little E to enjoy the circling parade of Disney car rides, and were also offered free rides at the brilliant carousel! Of course, for Little E, the funfair was the highlight of the day.

We walked back home to join the family for a home-cooked dinner. While on the way home, walking along the astir streets, we relished the moments spent together in this quaint town.

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Once back home, J cooked chicken ala king and fed everyone. I love it whenever J puts on his chef hat. As a perfectionist, he always makes sure food at its best standard is served.

Chef J at work

And the children? They were well entertained by the cartoon Inside Out, put up by Shen on his computer to keep them occupied while waiting for dinner to be ready.

After the simple yet satisfying dinner, the family gathered around for Bible fellowship facilitated by Mum. We are ever thankful for every opportunity to come together as one big family to study His Word and to pray for and along with one another.

As I laid on the bed thinking about the Stonehenge, I couldn’t help but praise God from the bottom of my heart for calling us out of darkness and into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9). It is God who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9). We are not lost people, who needed to go to great extents in the hope to appease God by offering various gifts or sacrifices, like what the ancient people who built Stonehenge, for the purpose of making it a temple for rituals or a place of animal as well as human sacrifice (based on the massive numbers of bone remains found near the site).

Everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, is under the condemnation of God and deserving of His wrath (Romans 1:18), for everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All of us deserve His wrath and punishment. However, God Himself, in His infinite grace and mercy has provided the only means through which His wrath can be appeased so that we sinful people can be reconciled to Him. Believers in Christ Jesus have been “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” The wonderful truth of the gospel is that Christians are saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to God not because “we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Upon knowing what Stonehenge is all about after our visit, I had a feeling of regret for visiting a questionable site that was built solely by people who didn’t know God. However, lamenting over it led me to ponder and continue to marvel over the wonderful and important truths that God has revealed to us… And I slept with God’s peace covering me.

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