|by Dennis Wilkins
|Webmaster's note. My friends run the gamut from wildly metaphysical to solidly scientific. Although Dennis is a photographic artist and a musician, his long career as Hewlett-Packard reliability scientist places him firmly on the scientific side of the spectrum. That makes this incident all the more fascinating. --NLK
Southwest England is full of beautiful and mysterious features- the famed stone circle of Stonehenge, the lesser known but equally fascinating Woodhenge, the largest stone “avenue” on earth at Avebury, and the amazing Silbury Hill, a manmade “pyramid” built around 2,600 BC.
My first visit to Stonehenge was one of the strangest experiences of
my life. I was traveling with a business associate, another American, between
London and Bristol with a free day between business meetings. After staying
at the Antrobus Arms
in Amesbury, itself a link to the old traditions of England, we drove west
along the A303. As we crested a hill the famed circle stood below. It looked
small from the high point of the road, but it was definitely Stonehenge.
It was a typical Salisbury Plain winter morning, overcast and hazy. We
drove down to the car park (love those English names- yes,
that's where you park your car), paid the cashier, and walked down under
the road through the tunnel to view the stones.
Since we had to continue to nearby Woodhenge and Avebury, we thanked the old man and headed back through the tunnel, emerging to a typical overcast day on the Salisbury Plain. My traveling partner looked at me and asked, “What’s going on?” I had no answer.
The next day we met with our English business associate, whose hobby happened to be the study of stone circles. When we mentioned how lucky we were to visit Stonehenge on a Tuesday, when we could walk around inside the circle, he gave us a look of utter astonishment. He had never heard of such a thing, and he later contacted me to confirm there was no such “day of grace” for walking among the stones. He suggested we had experienced something unique and mystical.
Back in the States I had the film processed, anxious to see the Stonehenge images. When I returned to get them, the owner of the camera store, whom I knew well, came out and said, “I’m very sorry about one of your rolls. The cutter got out of sequence and sliced several images in half.” Of course it was the roll from Stonehenge.
I scanned some of the split images with my first film scanner (an HP Photosmart) in 1997, but it was difficult to get the densities and colors to match (the scanning software didn't enable “fixing” the settings). I recently scanned the film with a Minolta DiMAGE III and edited the images with Picture Window Pro.
I have visited Stonehenge many times since that first visit, but it is always roped off with bright yellow fences. People walk all around the perimeter marveling at the sight. But I will always cherish that first visit and the wonder of being at the center of Stonehenge, a place of ancient mystery and power.