A Year at Stonehenge

Book Review: A Year at Stonehenge by James O. Davies

September, 2016

Book Review: A Year at Stonehenge by James O. Davies

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I have always been fascinated by Stonehenge. The who, what, and why are one of history’s most enduring questions. In September of 2015, I wrote my inaugural “Sacred Place, Sacred Space” column on Stonehenge and the Salisbury Plain – http://paganpages.org/content/2015/09/sacred-places-sacred-spaces/ So, I was thrilled when asked to review “A Year at Stonehenge” by James O. Davies.

Mr. Davies is an English Heritage Photographer. English Heritage is a registered charity that manages the National Historic Collection of England. They are the guardians of over 400 site and monuments, one of which is Stonehenge. As a photographer registered with English Heritage, Mr. Davies was granted special access to the Stonehenge site. Mr. Davies has spent the last five years photographing Stonehenge, in all types of weather and times of day/night. There are no filters on any of the photos.

Mike Pitts, an archeological expert, not only wrote the Introduction, but also the text interspersed within the photos. He speaks of the changes to Stonehenge through the years – falling stones, stones straightened and cemented into place, etc. The site, now, looks extremely similar to the way it did when the first official study was done in 1740.

The photos include those taken of the entire area from far off in the distance, across the plain, as well as numerous close-ups from different sections of the stone circle.

There are those taken under the full moon, giving the stones a blueish tinge; at sunrise, with frost looking as if the plains were rimmed in silver, at twilight from both the inside looking out and the outside looking in; with the sun or the moon in Her many phases twinkling above and through the stones. There are photos taken from both the Summer and Winter Solstices, complete with people mingling about, some in Druidic dress.

One of the most fun photos is of the so-called “Fire Garden”, which had the site lit up with fire during the 2012 London Olympics.

Photos are included showing Stonehenge covered, and surrounded, by low snow drifts, as well as with the sun shining through the stones at first light, surrounded by dew covered grass.

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There are photos of birds in flight in and around the stones; close-ups of individual stones, so that you can see the carvings and texture of each one. I felt as if I could reach out and touch them, due to the clarity of the photos. Some of them look surprisingly like faces.

Photos are taken from each time of the day and night. One is particular, with Stonehenge shown in silhouette at dusk is absolutely gorgeous. As is the one that was taken at night, with only a slight crescent moon shining above. There is one where the stones themselves cast long shadows across their neighboring stones.

One of my favorites is the stones seemingly covered in the mists, as if they had traveled the 50 miles or so from Avalon.

It is amazing to see how the texture and color of the stones seems to change from photograph to photograph, depending upon the time of day/night in which the photo was taken, as well as the different weather conditions.

While each every photograph is beautiful and unique unto itself, there were several that literally took my breath away as I turned the page to view it. I felt a sense of wonder at the beauty of this ancient site. I found a calming peace as I sat there, taking in each photo.

It is my dream to visit Stonehenge one day, as it is most definitely at the top of my bucket list, and seeing the photos taken by Mr. Davies has brought me a little bit closer to that dream. If you have an abiding love for Stonehenge, or even an historical interest, I highly recommend that you buy yourself a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed.

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It is my dream to visit Stonehenge one day, as it is most definitely at the top of my bucket list, and seeing the photos taken by Mr. Davies has brought me a little bit closer to that dream. If you have an abiding love for Stonehenge, or even an historical interest, I highly recommend that you buy yourself a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed.