Two GPL Librarians in England, Post #3: Humber Bridge, Wilberforce House and Rudston Monolith

Humber Bridge

Frank and I have now made our way to the North Sea Coast, thanks to our able companion and guide, Heidi’s husband, Gareth Schachtschneider-Williams.

Our first stop Saturday was to see the port city of Hull’s Humber Bridge, said to be the fifth largest single-span suspension bridge in the world. 

If you’re also interested in the great bridges of the world, Greensboro Public Library’s holdings include the recent Bridges:  The Science and Art of the World’s Most Inspiring Structures (2010).

Wilberforce

Later, in the old part of the city, we visited the William Wilberforce house and museum.  Wilberforce was of course the English politician who fought relentlessly to abolish slavery in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. 

His efforts were the subject of the recent film Amazing Grace, and the library also has an excellent biography of Wilberforce by William Hague called William Wilberforce:  The Life of the Great Anti-slave Trade Campaigner (2007).

Rudston Monolith

After Hull, we proceeded north up the coast, but took time to visit the parish church of the tiny village of Rudston where one can see a giant neolithic monolith (26 feet high) that was erected over 4000 years ago.  Our stop in Rudston also included an excellent lunch at a local tavern where the barman regaled us with amusing stories.        

If you’d like to read about megalithic monuments like the one at Rudston, try  Bronze Age Britain by Michael Parker Pearson (2005) or Great Stone Circles:  Fables, Fictions, Facts by Aubrey Burl (1999).  

By evening we had just made it to the splendid seaside village of Robin Hood’s Bay, which is quite simply one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever had the good fortune to see.  But more about that in our next post.

Discovery of Bluestonehenge, a “Mini-Stonehenge”

Stonehenge

This past week, archaeologists announced the discovery of a miniature version of England’s Stonehenge, and located just a mile or so from the latter, which is of course the most famous megalithic stone circle in the world.   

The new discovery is called “Bluestonehenge,” owing to the color of the stones used to build it — though the stones were actually removed around 2,500 BC and incorporated into Stonehenge, leaving only traces at the old site.

The actual purpose of Stonehenge still remains a matter of considerable debate.  Gerald Hawkins’ argument that it served as an ancient astronomical observatory caused quite a stir when he first published his ideas in the 1960s (see his Stonehenge Decoded in the reading list below).  Hawkins described the monument as a sort of “neolithic computer,” designed to predict eclipses, among other things.

The discovery of Bluestonehenge comes thanks to the University of Sheffield’s Stonehenge Riverside Project, which has been involved in fieldwork at the site since 2003.  Archaeologists with the Riverside project have concluded “that burials were a major component of Stonehenge in all its main stages.”     

Occult, New Age and counter-cultural interest in Stonehenge continues, and in recent years modern-day Druids have regained access to the monument for solstice ceremonies and the like (which had been denied for some years).          

If you’re interested in reading further, Greensboro Public Library has a number of books on Stonehenge and other stone circles, though some of them are a tad dated.  These include:  Stonehenge by Rosemary Hill; Stonehenge by Catherine M. Petrini (juvenile); Great Stone Circles:  Fables, Fictions, Facts by Aubrey Burl; Rings of Stone:  The Prehistoric Stone Circles of Britain and Ireland by Aubrey Burl; Stonehenge Complete by Christopher Chippindale; The Enigma of Stonehenge by John Fowles & Barry Brukoff; Stonehenge and its Mysteries by Michael Balfour; Stonehenge:  The Indo-European Heritage by Leon E. Stover & Bruce Kraig; The Pattern of the Past by Guy Underwood; and Stonehenge Decoded by Gerald S. Hawkins in collaboration with John B. White.