Saturday, March 08, 2014

Some sense of Salisbury . . . England!

We were at the end of our travels, scheduled for a month in England, and grateful for a rest in London. Five days at the British Museum, two days at the Library, before traveling to Salisbury for that obligatory stop at Stonehenge, a World Heritage site.

Stonehenge (Camp 2004)
What surprised me about Stonehenge was not the crowds of people, nor the ropes that prevented us from reaching out to touch these ancient stones, some 4,000 years old. It was seeing for myself what a picture could not communicate. The scale of the individual stones was simply massive. For example, just one of these stones, perhaps a lintel, measures 16 feet high by 6 feet wide.

The rolling hills around seemed innocent of any rocks like these. Academics have argued for generations about how these rocks came to be in this place. Wikipedia has an interesting overview of the site that describes how Stonehenge was used first as a burial mound and how it gradually morphed into some kind of gathering place, perhaps sacred, perhaps a healing place.

In Salisbury proper, we visited St. Thomas Church primarily to see its "doom" painting (a painting of the Last Judgment dating from about 1475), which clearly shows on each lower side those souls ascending to heaven or those descending to Hell's mouth. The story goes that this wonderful painting was created as a thank-offering for a safe return from the Holy Land, then whitewashed over during the Reformation and not rediscovered until the 19th Century.

Doom Painting at St. Thomas Church (Camp 2004)

Later, we walked over the more famous Cathedral of Salisbury, a much grander church built about 1220 (and home of one of the copies of the Magna Carta), but still, we strolled in the garden and tried to imagine a life of quiet contemplation. 

Cloisters,  Salisbury Cathedral, England (Camp 2004).
In the next few posts, I shall share images from several different trips as my computer can finally "read" picture CDs. May you travel well!

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