Stonehenge Virgins

14th August 2014 — 13 Comments

Mrs John and I were stuck in a traffic jam on the A303 and about five miles from our ultimate goal, one of the great wonders of the world. In those sixty minutes or so it took us to reach our destination, I had already completed (in my head, at least) four super magazine articles, umpteen clever phrases made up from car number plates and feverishly tried to work out a devious scheme in which I could relieve myself without attracting the attention of others. The latter soon became my top priority! I desperately needed a pee! So, how come my wife and I found ourselves in this predicament on one of the hottest days of the year, sans air conditioning and with an irritability factor almost reaching maximum?

 It was like this …


STONEHENGE © JW – Click to Enlarge

In August 2006, English Heritage celebrated the centenary of the first aerial pictures taken by light aircraft by staging an exhibition at the ancient Neolithic site of Stonehenge. A display of vintage and modern photographs told the story of these early images as well as exploring the world of aerial photography. In addition, English Heritage promised that a tethered air balloon would be on site and there would be an opportunity to go up in the basket and take photographs.


Virgin Balloon © JW – Click to Enlarge

Like the big red balloon, I was also a Virgin. In my naivety I imagined it would be rising majestically above the stones and I might just be able to grab a picture. What a magnificent introduction it would make to an article on aerial photograhy and how detectorists might benefit.

Alas, the balloon was about 300 metres away, was only inflated about once every hour and carried just three people in the basket. It remained for the rest of the time totally expired in a languid, sprawling heap. Not only that, I soon realised that there was little chance of hitching a lift anyway. To claim a ride, you had to put your entrance ticket in a bucket from which a couple of winners were plucked out every hour on the hour. With hundreds of people visiting that day, there seemed little chance. So I didn’t bother and the intended article was almost forgotten.

However, the touring exhibition proved to be very useful and showed how aerial surveys have become one of the most powerful and least invasive tools of the archaeologist.

In the temporary marquee I saw images of Bronze Age crop marks looking like idle doodles on the landscape. Some pictures showed the long shadows cast by the evening sun turning inconspicuous bumps into ghostly recreations of Roman pillars or gateposts.

There was also a machine reminiscent of the Viewmaster 3D toy of my youth, but rather more sophisticated that enabled me to gaze in wonder at remarkable images of popular archaeological sites. Fascinating! And not only that, a new article was beginning to take shape …


Extract from a longer article first written in 2006



Posts Twitter

The copyright owner of content on this blog is John Winter, unless noted otherwise. Every effort has been made to assure no material was used without permission. If you are the owner and find that your material was inadvertently used without permission then please contact me. Your material will be removed immediately or your copyright message will be added, whatever you prefer.

13 responses to Stonehenge Virgins

  1. Did you pee or not pee, that is the question!

  2. Yes, I did! Used my initiative. Traffic at a standstill. Casually opened passenger door … piddled mainly in door pocket. Great relief though day didn’t improve.

  3. always enjoy your posts John………from “northernON at CMD forum”

  4. I always admire the french they have no hang ups when it comes to things lavatorial,and will pee anywhere with gay abandon , while us silly Brits would sooner give ourselves kidney failure ,than face the slightest possibility we might expose our selves ,let it all hang out ,whos looking anyway ….

  5. Hi John. First let me say that its good to see you back in print. Don’t we all suffer the perils of long distance travel by car ? Now, I’m with Peter on this one. I won’t suffer in silence any more I will just find a likely spot and let ‘er rip.

  6. Even in our town centres many of our public conveniences have closed or are only open silly hours, so it is pretty obvious that bladders will have to be relieved. Just look out for Plod, as he’ll quite happily nick anyone caught in the act.

    Crop marks are very easily seen using Google Earth or old aerial pics.

  7. John, you get me out there doing it……………no not peeing 😉

  8. John, you should have the forefinger on your right hand replaced, with your willy.

    Then, when the need arises, all you need do is to wind down the car window, and dangle your “bit” out, whilst continuing on your journey.

    • That’s genetic engineering at its most inventive. Why didn’t I think of that?
      Thinks … wouldn’t work … can’t operate the key pad on my mobile phone as it is!

  9. Another great read John, thank you

Would you like to leave a response?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.