Oxford, Day 14: A Day Trip to Stonehenge and Bath, UK

Originally published June 9, 2012, this blog post series is an undergraduate short-term study abroad trip in Oxford, UK in partnership with Salve Regina University and St. Clare’s Oxford. The blog post may have been edited for clarity and updated with relevant travel information and links.

  1. Facts about Stonehenge
  2. What to see and do in Bath, UK
    1. Visit the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum
    2. Facts about the Roman Baths in Bath, UK
    3. Exhibits at the Fashion Museum in Bath, UK
    4. Have a spot of tea at the Fashion Museum
    5. A walking tour of Jane Austen’s featured sites mentioned in Persuasion
    6. The Roman Baths in Bath, UK
    7. Fashion Museum in Bath
    8. Pulteney Bridge in Bath, UK
    9. The Jane Austen Center
    10. Jane Austen’s apartment in Bath, UK

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):

Facts about Stonehenge

  • 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.

What to see and do in Bath, UK

Visit the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum

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…

Facts about the Roman Baths in Bath, UK

According to the Roman Baths website, Bath is built upon sacred springs:

Aquae Sulis (that’s Bath to you) has three hot springs. The spring that has the most water coming out from it is special to the goddess Sulis Minerva. She was worshipped here even before us Romans arrived! People travel far to visit the spring, pray to her and ask for her help.

The Spring is in the middle of the site you can visit. It’s here that water gushes up from the ground as a natural hot spring. It’s 46° C so it’s hotter than the water in your bath! The water is full of different minerals, even more than the bottled spring water you can buy in supermarkets. The orange color around the Spring comes from the iron dissolved in the water. In Medieval times the Spring was given the name ‘King’s Spring’ after King Henry I and the name stuck.

The ROMAN BATHS, BATH UK WEBSITE

Exhibits at the Fashion Museum in Bath, UK

“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.

Have a spot of tea at the Fashion Museum

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

We concluded our time in Bath with a walking tour led by the professor of the Literature of Oxford course and visited some sites featured in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.  We saw the 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.

The Roman Baths in Bath, UK

The Roman Baths in Bath, UK
The view of the Roman Baths in Bath, UK
The view of the Roman baths in Bath, UK
The underground of the Roman Baths in Bath, UK
The Sacred Spring Overflow at the Roman Baths in Bath, UK
The central bath in Bath, UK

Fashion Museum in Bath

Fashion Museum 
My future book collection
Assembly Rooms Cafe
Jack Wills in Bath

Pulteney Bridge in Bath, UK

The view of Pulteney Bridge in Bath, UK

The Jane Austen Center

Jane Austen Centre

Royal Crescent in Bath, UK

The view of Royal Crescent in Bath, UK

Jane Austen’s apartment in Bath, UK

Jane Austen's apartment in Bath, UK
A view of Bath’s fields from the bus

For dinner back in Oxford, 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 leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Opium Den Chinese Restaurant
Crispy Chicken Chow Mien
Facts about Stonehenge
What to see and do in Bath, UK

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

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