It has to be one of the most famous places on Earth, never mind the United Kingdom: the prehistoric stone circle that is Stonehenge. But if you have ever been there, you’ll have found yourself behind a low fence on a paved path, well away from the stones themselves and far enough away to make good photographs difficult.
It’s hard to blame English Heritage, who own the site and are responsible for maintaining Stonehenge. Over the years, visitors have chipped off pieces of stone and carved their initials. Today, you can still see graffiti carved in the 1800s, when the stones were simply sitting in a corner of a lumpy field on the edge of Salisbury plain rather than a protected monument.
How is it that I am so special that I got to go right into the centre of the circle to get the angles and photos you see on the site? I’m not that special — anyone can arrange to visit the center of the circle at the very beginning or very end of the day for a small fee. You need to plan in advance, and English Heritage makes the rules and determines the time and days of access. There’s a page on the official Stonehenge website, where you can download an application form to make a reservation.
The Stonehenge photos you see here were taken very early on Easter Sunday, after a dawn trip down from London to Wiltshire. It was windy, cold and the early light had a blue cast, but as the sun rose and the day warmed up, so did the colours of the stones. We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the access; all kinds of people from tourists wanting a closer look to those with divining rods and odd-looking measuring devices that looked like were made from coat hangers — those folks were writing books on the strange energy (or so they said) exerted by the stones and the surrounding area. We bade them good luck and said we hoped our cameras hadn’t interfered with their careful measurements.