Rituals with stone and water, about life and death
By Sylvie Berthiaume - At destination
Travel in time, away from urban frenzy, to Stonehenge and Bath. Two days to plunge into history, to focus on the meaning of human existence, and to draw from our imagination the images of people living 4,500 years ago in the Neolithic and during the Bronze Age (Stonehenge), and later on in Roman times during the 1st century AD, the Middle-Ages, and the Georgian’s 18th century (Bath).
Stonehenge and Bath City are, due to their historic meaning and their achievement qualities, both inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Menhirs in a Circle
The Stonehenge megalithic complex was dedicated to funeral rites and major ceremonies, like the summer and winter solstices. Stonehenge has the largest scope and sophistication in the world.
Mysterious, mythical and mystical, it was built according to the astronomical rules and is a much eloquent demonstration of the human creativity, technological capacity and determination.
As soon as it appears in our field of vision, gradually in its approach, then at its feet and all around, our impressions are internalized, sublimated.
Then technical questioning comes to mind: How many stones, formerly and today? What types? What dimensions? What is a trilithon, etc.
The facts are staggering: these blocks of Sarsen Sandstone and Pembroke Blue Stones were carried over more than 200 kilometres. Gigantic also: Their weight varies between 7 and 40 tons each, their average thickness is a little more than a metre, their height reaches 4 metres and their width 2 metres. Trilithons are made of 3 blocks, perfectly interlocked.
During the visit to Stonehenge, beside the museum where you can learn more about the site, were erected replicas of some Neolithic houses to illustrate how people were sheltering, keeping warm and feeding. On a certain schedule, there are live demonstrations on people used with silex, made ropes, were milling grain, etc.
Bath, a Roman Spa and a City
The curiosity of most travellers is driven by the renowned Roman Baths, but the architecture of the city is also worth the travel. It is therefore recommended to mingle at least two hours around its center. Otherwise, you will be rushed to go, and leave with some regrets.
Bath, the city, was founded by the Romans under the name Aquae Sulis, to use its inexhaustible sources of volcanic hot water (250,000 gallons per day), above which was built Via Sulis Minerva Temple, with its marvelous scale and architecture. It is also recognized as the most important roman Bath north of the Alps.
Then, the whole city was developed as a multiple spas area, but also thanks to the wool and textile industry and its medieval abbey during the Middle Ages. Subsequently, in the Georgian’s 18th century, Bath’s famous reputation was due to art, literature, and elegant Palladian Neoclassical buildings inspired by the Veneto region.
A Garden-city: No Doubt
The diverse views on buildings, terraces, squares and luxurious crescents - including the fabulous Circus composed of 33 white doors - are interlaced and surrounded by green hills, yellow and green valleys, as well as strawberry fields. Bath is surely very entertaining and photogenic.
You may also want to throw a glance to the interior of the Royal Hotel, where several members of the royalty have stayed. Another celebrity who have stayed numerous times in Bath: The emeritus writer, Jane Austen. The city of Bathand its natural surroundings inspired her very much, and have given us - among others - the fabulous novel "Pride and Prejudice".
Sweet and colorful
Around Bath, bucolic narrow roads are lined with shrubs that almost enter houses through their windows. And very large dairy farms. This explains why Bath was the first place in England to produce ice cream, and the multitude of ice cream shops in Bath historic centre…
If it is possible for you to spend a night in Bath, you will certainly want to take advantage of the Roman baths in the evening, lighted with torches: The large outdoor bath of Via Sulis Minerva Temple is still open to the public.
South of England really has what it takes to feed the soul and the body. There is not only rain or fog… plenty of colors and tastes too!