Thursday, September 18, 2008

King Arthur and the Return to Stonehenge

Yesterday my folklore class took a field trip to Winchester and Stonehenge. While we were in Winchester, we went to the Great Hall of Winchester Castle. Winchester is one of two castles that are rumored to be Camelot-the legendary castle of King Arthur. Inside the Great Hall is a giant circular table mounted on a wall. It is painted with a likeness of "King Arthur" and has the names of twenty-four knights around its circumference. For years, this was supposed to be King Arthur's legendary round table. However it was recently carbon dated and it was probably made in the early 13th century (over a thousand years after Arthur was around), and was probably commissioned by King Edward I, who was a big fan of King Arthur. The portrait of King Arthur is suspected to be King Henry I. The hall was immense and the sight of a one ton table on the wall was pretty cool even if the table was a fake. We also went to the Winchester Cathedral, the longest cathedral in Great Britain. The original cathredral was built in the seventh century AD but it was expanded several times over the next couple of hundred years. Inside the cathedral there are well over a dozen memorial plaques and burial spots for people from the First Earl and Sandwich to Saxon Kings to Jane Austen. There are also enough Pagan symbols in the architecture and graffiti to write another Dan Brown book. At the point my camera battery started to die.

After we finished at the Cathedral we went to the Bishop On The Bridge Pub. I finally found a hot meal that I like: Bangers and Mash. It's not exactly a high class meal (sausage, mashed potatoes, and onion gravey), but it was hot and it tasted great. I had it with half-a-pint of Gales HSB (Horndean Speical Bitter) Ale. It's kinda of a hoppy "autumn" ale which thankfully went great with my 'pub grub.' Bottom line is that the best food I've had in England thus far has not been the fancy or more expensive stuff, or all that healthy. Good news for my wallet but news for my waistline. I'd still argue that it's still better for you than McDonald's anyday.

Our afternoon visit to Stonehenge was very different from the morning visit I experienced on Saturday. The light was completely different and eventhough the stones were in the exact same spots as they were on Saturday, they looked completely different. We also learned a lot more about the folklore associated with it; how it was built, why it was built, what it was used for. We also completely discredited some of the tales which was kind of fun. I love a good story but I still prefer science for actual explanations. I got about three new pictures of Stonehenge before my battery completely died. I need to figure out a way to make sure that this doesn't keep happening on trips because it is very annoying.

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