Oxford, Day 14: Stonehenge and Bath

The trip to Stonehenge and Bath was absolutely stunning.

We went to Stonehenge first–it turns out there was more to Stonehenge than I thought. There were a lot of facts and observations the tour guide pointed out, so I’ll briefly list the points I found interesting (Don’t quote me on this stuff, though, I’m no professional Stonehenge historian):

  • The tour guide said there used to be a “Wood-henge,” a wooden version of Stonehenge and it was estimated to be roughly three times bigger than Stonehenge. Since the structure was made of wood, it did not survive, but excavations proved that Wood-henge did exist. There are also many ancient burial mounds that are visible from Stonehenge on the horizon.
  • The stones used to build Stonehenge are from Wales and Ireland–which means the monoliths were transported kilometers away from the designated site. One theory, probably the most practical theory, was that the stones were transported by barge. Even still, it is a wonder how the builders moved the boulders from the coast. 
  • If I understood the tour guide correctly, the sunset perfectly aligns according to the interval of the stones starting on the summer solstice. For this reason, there are some beliefs that Stonehenge acted as some sort of calendar.  
  • The Druids and Stonehenge have a weak connection to each other. It turns out that by the time the Druids made it over to the area, Stonehenge was rendered useless. Stonehenge predates the Druids by several generations.

At Bath, I saw the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum. There was a joint discounted ticket to see both museums, so it was definitely worth getting. I rushed through the Roman Baths to go to the Fashion Museum, because of the strict time allotment for free time. It was hard refusing the urge to dip my feet in the bath after walking around in the strong wind…

“Sport and Fashion” and “The Top Trends for Spring/Summer 2012” were my favorite exhibits at the Fashion Museum. “Sport and Fashion” was arranged in honor of the London Olympics 2012, focusing on the evolution of sportswear and how it changed over the course of generations. “The Top Trends for Spring/Summer 2012” used historical garments to portray current fashion trends.

It was great to see one of Alexander McQueen’s pieces from the Fall/Winter ’11 collection featured as “Dress of the Year”. Sarah Burton, the current creative director for the Scottish fashion house since McQueen died, has done a wonderful job balancing her personal romantic aesthetic with that of the edge more commonly associated with McQueen.

After seeing the exhibits at the Fashion Museum, I had a pot of earl grey tea in the Museum’s cafe.

Afterwards, the professor of the Literature of Oxford course hosted a walking tour of some sites featured in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.  We saw the posh neighborhoods, the cobblestone streets, the parks–everything you could possibly want to see and to transport yourself back into Austen’s time and imagine her characters come to life.

For dinner, a friend and I went to a Chinese restaurant he saw in downtown Oxford yesterday by O’Neill’s. Curiously named “Opium Den,” the food was surprisingly delicious. I ordered spicy chicken chow mien and have plenty of left overs for lunch tomorrow.

Fashion Museum 

My future book collection

Assembly Rooms Cafe

Jack Wills in Bath

Jane Austen Centre

A view of Bath’s fields form the bus

Opium Den Chinese Restaurant

Crispy Chicken Chow Mien

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

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