Today is Sunday and we have an ancient history day planned. We pack up to leave and arrive at Maiden Castle around ten. Contrary to its name, it is not a castle and is not related to virgins at all, it is one of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Europe. The enclosed area is 19 hectares and we walked for an hour to get from one entrance to the other and back. From the car park it doesn’t look like much, but when you walk through the maze of ditches and ramparts you can only be amazed at the feat of construction from a time where there was no technology whatsoever.
There is nothing left but grass but the sheer size of the ramparts and depth of the ditches is really impressive. We spend an hour or so to get from one end to the other and back (see Wikiloc trail here) before setting of again, this time towards something a bit older still.
Stonehenge gets more than a million tourists per year so if you buy a ticket up front like we did you have to pick a timeslot, which we today miss by a few minutes. However today is calm and you can enter whenever you like. After the advice from one of the English Heritage people we buy a year’s membership pass, that gives us free access to all sites in England and reduced prices in Scotland and Wales. Since we’re doing a road trip and are particularly interested in historical sites, we expect to get the best end of the deal. Now that we’re reassured that the time window is not that crucial, we take the time for a sandwich and ginger beer before walking over the cursus and barrows to the stone circle itself. It is quite cold in the strong wind and for the first time we put on hats and gloves. I regale Arne with background and history from the Wikipedia pages, the circle itself when it comes into view is smaller than I imagined it, but the history of the site in the last ten millenia is really interesting. A lot of it is still conjecture, but even though they have been studying and excavating the site for hundreds of years, they’re still discovering stuff now.
An hour’s drive left to Bath, a shower and then dinner in the hotel.