It is one of those places that pop up all of the time. We see pictures of it. We hear the myths and theories about what it is.
But I never thought I would actually go there.
Stonehenge is in Wiltshire, England very close to Amesbury.
It is believed to have been built from 3000 to 2000 BC.
While I don't think anyone knows for sure the exact reason for Stonehenge, many believe it could have been an ancient burial ground. In 2013 Mike Pearson led a group of archaeologists in excavating upwards of 50,000 cremated bones of approximately 63 people buried at Stonehenge. These had been moved in 1920 when William Hawley found them and re-interred them into one hole as he considered the discovery unimportant.
The five central trilithons (a structure consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third stone set horizontally across the top), the heel stone, and the embanked avenue are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the sunrise of the summer solstice.
There are theories of it being simply a place to tell the time of year, that it was a place of healing, that it was a place to celebrate deceased ancestors, and even that a giant helped Merlin to build Stonehenge.
The Heel Stone is a large stone set apart from the main stone circle.
There is a folk tale attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth about the heel stone:
"The Devil bought the stones from a woman in Ireland, wrapped them up, and brought them to Salisbury plain. One of the stones fell into the Avon, the rest were carried to the plain. The Devil then cried out, 'No one will ever find out how these stones came here!' A friar replied, 'That's what you think!', whereupon the Devil threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. The stone stuck in the ground and is still there."
Whatever the reason for Stonehenge, there is a very distinct, quiet feeling there.
You know that whatever it was built and used for anciently, those that built it did something incredible. The stones are huge and it is crazy to think about what it would have taken to create it.
In 1977 it was roped off to no longer let visitors walk throughout and touch the stones but you can still get into the stones and off the pathway through special tours and solstice celebrations.
I highly recommend a visit to Stonehenge if you are ever in England.
See more pictures of our visit on Gingham Owl here.
Bath Abbey was the first European Cathedral that my mom and I visited and it blew us away with its size and beauty.
The location of the Abbey has been the site of Christian worship for over a thousand years.
It was first a monastery from 757AD until it was destroyed by Norman conquerors who then built a Norman cathedral in 1090. By the late 15th century this cathedral was in ruins and the present Abbey was built beginning in 1499 after the Bishop, Oliver King said that he had a dream where angels descended from and and ascended to heaven inspiring him to build the new Abbey church.
It would be the last great medieval cathedral to be built in England.
The first King of England, King Edgar was crowned on this site in 973.
In 1539, the dissolution of the monasteries by orer of King Henry the 8th led to the Abbey being in ruins for over 70 years. On January 27, 1539 Prior Holloway and 18 monks surrendered the Priory to the officials sent from the King and signed the Deed of Dissolution. The Abbey, other buildings, and the land were then sold.
In 1560, Edmund Colthurst asked the City Corporation to consider using the Abbey as a parish church. It was still in ruins with walls fallen in and no roof on the nave. In 1574 Queen Elizabeth the first granted them permission to fundraise for the Abbey.
The restoration was completed in 1611. It then began to be used as a parish church.
Through the years improvements were made, things were added and changed.
The Bath Blitz occured on April 25-27th in 1942. 400 people were killed in the city and 872 wounded. The Great East window and all of the Abbey's north side windows were blown out.
In 1948 they began to raise money to repair the damage. It took many years to raise the funds and complete.
You can feel all of this history as you walk around the Abbey and there are so many more stories and history to learn when you visit.
I just watched Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen and James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy.
Having recently read a biography about Jane, I felt like I knew a little more about what was being depicted in the film. I noticed where they embellished or changed things from the general opinion of how they actually were. But I still felt like they did a good job.
The problem is, I don't know that much about Jane Austen.
Even after reading the biography, I feel like I have so much more research to do to really know her.
I think we get a good feel for her humor and interests through her books and letters but it is hard to really make a movie about a love story that no one really knows that much about.
We know that he spoke of having loved Jane Austen when he was older.
But as far as I can tell, most of the movie's interactions between the two are fiction.
Having said that, I still really enjoyed the film.
I am already a fan of both of these leading actors and I felt like they brought a lot to their characters.
Anne fit the idea of Jane that I have in my head. Maybe not as much in looks as in spirit and fire.
And James... well James McAvoy can pretty much charm me in every movie he is in.
But even more so when he is in period clothing and dancing.
This movie makes you really wish that they had ended up together which then opens up all sorts of discussion questions.
Such as: Do you think if Jane had married and had children and lived the "normal" life of a woman of that time period that she would have written the novels that she did?
How would that kind of life have affected her?
Would we even know who she is?
I would like to think that she could have been a happily married wife and mother and still given the world her books, but that is something we will never know.
If you are looking for a good period romance, I think you will really enjoy this movie.