Michael A. Stecker


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Salisbury England
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The Salisbury Plain
One of Great Britain's best-known open spaces, consisting of a plateau covering about 300 square miles in the county of Wiltshire, England. The largely treeless tract, drained to the south by the River Avon and its tributaries, is built on chalk. Its northern edge is defined by an escarpment overlooking the Vale of Pewsey. Its other boundaries are less clear. The area was settled in early times and abounds in prehistoric monuments, of which the best known is Stonehenge. 

Sheep grazing on the lush Salisbury Plain


Salisbury Cathedral
In 1220 AD Bishop Richard Poore and his brilliant architect Elias de Derham decided to build Salisbury Cathedral to replace the old Norman Church at Old Sarum. The huge Cloister (the largest in England) and the magnificent Chapter House (containing the Magna Carta) were added in 1280 AD. But then in 1313 AD the most daring and astonishing addition was made. The tower was raised and on top of it they built the slender soaring spire which we see today, completing the Cathedral 95 years after Elias first started the work.


The main chapel inside Salisbury Cathedral


Stonehenge archaeological site is located about 8 miles northwest of Salisbury,
in Wiltshire, England. Built in prehistoric times beginning about 3100 BC, it is a monumental circular setting of large standing stones surrounded by an earthwork. The monument consists of a number of structural elements, mostly circular in plan. On the outside is a circular ditch, with a bank immediately within it, all interrupted by an entrance gap on the northeast, leading to a straight path called the Avenue. At the center of the circle is a stone setting consisting of a horseshoe of tall uprights of sarsen (Tertiary sandstone) encircled by a ring of tall sarsen uprights, all originally capped by horizontal sarsen stones in a post-and-lintel arrangement. Within the sarsen stone circle were also configurations of smaller and lighter bluestones (igneous rock of diabase, rhyolite, and volcanic ash), but most of these bluestones have disappeared. Additional stones include the so-called Altar Stone, the Slaughter Stone, two Station stones, and the Heel Stone, the last standing on the Avenue outside the entrance. Archaeological excavations suggest three main periods of building -- Stonehenge I (3100 BC), II (2100 BC), and III (2000 BC), the last divided into phases. Why Stonehenge was built is unknown, though it probably was constructed as a place of worship of some kind. The English astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer demonstrated that the northeast axis aligned with the sunrise at the summer solstice, leading other scholars to speculate that the builders were sun worshipers.

Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain


Stonehenge close-up