A Museum of Rocks and a City of Bathtubs

Today, our same driver from yesterday, Jeff, picked us up in a grey Volkswagen van, and we drove two and a half hours to Salisbury Plains. There, we met our guide, Cheryl, and rode a bus to the Stonehenge British Historic Site.

Stonehenge is a lot bigger than I’d imagined. The large stones are around twenty feet tall and the site is around three thousand years old.

We know the stones are from a quarry about 140 miles away, but we don’t know how they got them here. The larger stones weigh over 250 metric tons. They used to be arranged in rings and spirals, and the stones lie perfectly on the line where the sun travels on the equinoxes and solstices.

The stones were used for burials, but other than that we don’t know what they’re for. Why were the stones dragged so far? Why are they arranged in these shapes? Why were they stacked so precisely? We may never know the answers. 

Theories range from an ancient people erecting a monument at an important astrological site to aliens landing in sophisiticated spaceships and moving rocks around for no good reason.

After Stonehenge, we drove across the Salisbury Plain to the city of Bath.

Bath is built around the only bubbling hot springs in Britain. The Romans constructed an elaborate bath around these springs, full of underground channels and drains. Most of them still operate today. 

Our first destination in Bath was the city’s namesake, the Roman Baths.

Only the lowest level is original here. The columns, statues, balustrades and side buildings were all added during the Victorian era. 

The baths here were some of the most elaborate in the Roman empire. The complex featured a warm influx of water, a sauna, a steam room, cold, warm, and hot rooms, two temples, and a gymnasium. Water entered the complex through a channel, first to the Pool of the Gods and then into the Great Bath.

Then, the water drains through a sluice gate into the other baths. This is the hot room. The mosaic-tiled floor is set above a furnace that heats the room from above.

After passing through the rooms and eventually into the Cold Plunge, where the water has cooled significantly, the water passes through a waterfall and a channel:

and eventually into the Great Drain. 

The Drain leads out to a canal that then drains to the River Avon.

After exploring the Baths, we checked out the rest of the city.

Bath is a beautiful city, a blend of classical, Victorian, Georgian and Modernist architecture. After driving through the city, we hit the road and drove back to London. We spent about five hours in the van an according to my Fitbit, I walked about two miles, which doesn’t sound like a lot but combined with the car ride was plenty exhausting. Tomorrow, we ride the Eurostar high-speed train from St. Pancras Station into Paris, where we’ll be spending a day and a half.

Thank you for commenting on my previous posts. I really enjoy reading feedback.

- Hayden M. Strong

© Knstrong 2013