Romancing the Stone(henge)

(for the record, the intro for this video was inspired by the opening credits of my favorite movie, School of Rock, and I regard it as the best 30 seconds of video I have ever created)

At some point on my train journey to Liverpool, I realized that I was:

  1. Alone
  2. Not Lost
  3. Still Alive

It didn’t even feel like I was traveling very far – although, to be fair, I spent more time on trains than I did in Liverpool itself. But I did it – I arranged my own travel and left Worcester by myself. That may not sound like a big deal, but it was to me!

Most of the rest of my time has been spent between Reddit and Netflix on an ordinary school schedule – wake up, eat, class. Eat a few more times. Get outside. Watch Buffy & Angel. Rinse. Repeat. The promise of routine helps keep me sane, but obviously I didn’t come all this way to do exactly the same things I do at home.

A couple weekends ago the UMD group went to Stonehenge and the city of Bath. Stonehenge is cool because it’s Stonehenge – a tourist mecca. I’m pretty sure England doesn’t even count your visit to their country unless you go there. They reenact ritual sacrifices every twenty minutes. And the laser show – did I mention the laser show? You should go sometime.

Well, not really.

It is a pretty unique experience though. Even the clouds parted for us.

It’s pretty humbling to tread on such ancient ground that’s so much older than not just myself, but my country and just about everything else I have ever seen or loved.
Of course, the same applies to all of the city of Bath, a city that’s famous for its remnants of Roman settlement. The city is noticeably different from other English cities I’ve visited – everything is made of similar grey stone. According to our tour guide, this is one reason that both Charles Dickens and Jane Austen both hated it. Appropriately enough, Bath is owes much of its popularity to the three hot springs within its border – the only three in the United Kingdom! In fact, the Romans liked the springs so much, they built a bath house over it.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I was told about the “Roman bath” I pretty much figured it was a glorified sauna. I guess the Romans took their bathing pretty seriously, though, because an entire complex was built around the bath houses – and they are bath houses. There’s even a temple. Well, there was a temple. But by far the most interesting part of the museum built around these ruins was their coin collection.

The coins found on this site span hundreds of years! I tend to think of Roman times as being within a single generation – I know that’s not true, but I don’t have a benchmark. But these coins… they’re such a simple thing, but they represent so much history that is lost forever. I mean, did people throw them into fountains and make a wish? Did they get what they wanted? Did they like their emperor? Did they think about how they would be remembered?

I still think it’s crazy how I can walk into town every day and walk through buildings older than the United States, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s not even old. They told us that the water in the hot springs of Bath first fell 10,000 years ago. That’s pre-Roman. Even Stonehenge has only been around for a few thousand years. Listen to me, a “few thousand.” Like it’s nothing. 
It certainly is humbling.