Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Come one, come all, to see world-famous Rocks!

The realm of tourism is full of kitsch, replicas and false history. Real mummies, wax museums, medieval torture dungeons, etc. We’ve all seen them. Apparently, we humans can’t resist good fanciful fiction if it’s better than the facts. But I believe the greatest marketing coup of all time has to be selling rocks. I can almost see some shamster concocting a whopper of a tale about rare and ancient stones, charging people admission to see them and laughing all the way to the bank.

But rocks are serious business all over the world. Just think of Plymouth Rock, the Blarney Stone and the mother of them all, Stonehenge. It turns out that when we blindly chose to run a race in Salisbury, England, we were placing ourselves within ten miles of this mysterious ancient ring o’ rocks. We figured we better go see it and when we found out that a bus would pick us up in town and haul us out to the middle of the fields where said stones lay, we knew it wouldn’t get any easier. Away we went on a classic red double-decker bus, with tour narration entertaining and educating us all the way.

We queued up to get into the big grassy field, grabbed audio guides and circled the circle. You can’t get very close (unless you pay extra for an after-hours tour) so you walk slowly around the fence perimeter while listening to a lot of archaeological information that basically amounts to this: These rocks are really, really old and no one knows what they were for. Granted, it’s pretty amazing that primitive folks could haul these multi-ton rocks to their present location, especially when modern humans tried to recreate the river journey with a rock of similar size and their raft promptly sank. Plus, they schlepped them over land for miles before standing them upright in a very specific orientation. So, I say kudos to the Neolithic people.

Let’s face it though- rocks are rocks. I can’t say I was disappointed because my expectations weren’t too high. Stonehenge was exactly as I thought it would be and looked just like every photo I’ve ever seen of it. It’s just nothing much to write home about (except that I sort of just did).


Merley95 said...

We have seen a lot af amazing sites, don't get me wrong, but I think I could make a scapbook of pictures of me with underwhelming famous sites. Me with Manequin Pis (he's only two feet tall), me with the Parthenon Athena Statue (again, she's small)... I could have a section dedicated just to me with clay pots dating back 3000 years. In my scrapbook I would include this Stone Henge picture, even though it lived up to my low expectations. It is what I thought it would be- really old rocks.

MOM said...

I think those old rocks are very is the pic of the guy in front of them. I have a very nice painting of those old rocks hanging here in my house...and if I remember correctly the painter got a blue ribbon for his work. The guy also made a few very interesting pots!! Hmmmm....