England We drive a Porsche 997 Turbo Cabriolet into history to ponder the origins of Stonehenge
The road, A303, near Salisbury goes over a crest before dropping of sharply and coming up to a neat fork. In the green flat plains between two branches of the fork sits Stonehenge.
For me the most impressive sight was seeing Stonehenge burst into view as I topped the crest on the A303. As it is I was in a highly excited state of mind, body and soul because I was at the wheel of the Porsche 997 Turbo Cabriolet. It is a car that ups the rate of your heartbeat the moment the turbo kicks in with a swoooosh for the first time.
The moment I saw the circle of rocks standing tall that form Stonehenge, there was no doubt in my mind about why this is the United Kingdom’s most popular and celebrated tourist attraction.
Standing like silent sentinels to history as they have for over 5,000 years, Stonehenge defies reason and logic. Why were these stones arranged in such a symmetric manner? What did they signify and how did the creators of Stonehenge manage to manoeuvre such big stones (weighing about four tonnes) without the help of modern machinery?
Scholars and historians have formed theories and put forth explanations, but Stonehenge still remains enigmatic. Some believe it was the site of pagan worship while the more scientifically inclined think it was a giant astronomical clock. Others are convinced it was an elaborate burial ground. In fact bones and skeletal remains have been dug up and have been estimated to around 3,500BC.
Also while I was there, there were a group of protestors picketing about the treatment of the bones and remains. The ancient bones that have been dug up and taken for laboratory tests are now slated to be sent to a museum where the world can view them. The picketers were demanding that the bones be returned with respect to their ancient resting site.
English Heritage that manages the site has a lovely audio tour through handsets that is included in the ticket price. The best way to see Stonehenge is arrive here early in the way before the tour bus caravan arrives so that you have the place all to yourself. The audio tour is really worth following and listening to since it gives you an interesting insight into the origins and creation of Stonehenge.
Interestingly some of the huge stones are called Bluestones thanks to their original colouring and these four ton mammoths were hauled here from the Presli Hills in south Wales – a staggering 250 miles away. Like the pyramids it is not really ridiculous to give fuel to the thought that maybe the Stonehenge druids – like the ancient Egyptians and their pyramids – had some extra terrestrial backing.
But I really didn’t spend too much time at Stonehenge this time around. I was out on a driving trip in a car that demanded respect and admiration and doled out thrills on motorway straights as well as country road corners.
From Stonehenge I skirted around Salisbury in a throaty roar often interrupted by the whine of the turbo charger and headed south towards the coast stopping at a charming little inn called the Cock Inn which has a very cozy interior and real good pub food.
My idea was the get right down to the English coast enjoying small country roads and once we got there we took in stunning Atlantic views and turned back towards London driving through the county of Dorset. We chanced upon a very pretty village called Moreton and stopped at a quaint village public house called the Frampton Arms. The lady behind the bar was quite chatty and seeing we were visiting rattled off places of interest in the vicinity. A phrase caught my attention – Lawrence of Arabia.
The man who had the Turks on the run, the hero of Aquaba and passionate biker – T. E. Lawrence is interred in the graveyard attached to the Moreton Church.
The reason he is buried here in an almost obscure little village is because he had family ties with the Framptons who owned Moreton Estate. Since Lawrence had a tragic motorcycle accident very close to Moreton and it was all of a sudden, his mother contacted the Framptons to ask whether he could be buried at Moreton. The funeral was attended by the great and the good of the country including Winston Churchill and his wife.
The grave lies in a little corner of the graveyard and is fitting for a man who went to great lengths to live his life in obscurity.
If you want to see the Borough Superior SS100 that Lawrence was riding when he had his fatal accident, it is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Visit www.visitbritain.co.in for more information.