Posts Tagged ‘Study Abroad in London’

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Luke: Stonehenge and Bath

March 9, 2011

Stonehenge_416I ventured out west once again last month and arrived at Salisbury Plain to see Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site. The monument seems to have been constructed in several phases over about a thousand years. The oldest part is not much more than a circular ditch and is 5000 years old. The large stones inside this original ditch that make Stonehenge famous were originally arranged in such a way that you could tell what month of the year it was by observing which archway the sunlight from the sunrise passed through. Summer solstice is the most popular day for visiting Stonehenge. A few stones have been repositioned to their original places since excavation began 150 years ago. The stone came from Wales, so how on earth did it get all the way to Salisbury Plain? Well, it was probably floated up the River Avon, but they still had to be moved on land the rest of the way. The best clue we have to how Stonehenge was actually erected comes from the fact that a good portion of each stone is underground, much like teeth fitting into gums. Why is Stonehenge a ruin today? Giant stones like this shouldn’t just fall over by themselves. I think the answer that makes the most sense is that the Romans vandalised it 2000 years ago to spite local religions and to assert their dominance. It may have been used by Druids for religious purposes in Roman times long after it was built, and these Druids stirred up trouble against Rome. I have included concept art of what Stonehenge originally looked like as well as a photo of it from 1877 before reconstruction. The last couple pictures are burial mounds called barrows, as well as the “Heelstone,” which is labelled on the concept drawing. They also put two stones in front of the entrance, so I can proudly say that I have touched a part of Stonehenge.

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Dsc00619Next, I continued on to Bath, where the entire city is a World Heritage Site. It is noted for, among other things, which, don’t worry, will be discussed here, its Georgian architecture. Every single building in the entire city is made from Bath Stone, a local light-brown limestone quarried only a few miles away. You feel as if stepping into a time machine when entering the city. Jane Austen lived here, moving with her family when she was about 25. She, however, hated her time in bath when she considered her brothers off at university while she had to tag along with her family since she was a woman. Her novel Northanger Abbey is set in Bath. Bath is also home to two spots called the Circus and the Crescent, a circular road and half-circle block of high-end residences. Big Hollywood actors own real estate on the Circus or Crescent, so I do mean high-end. Bath is also home to the famous Roman Baths, which are 2000 years old and sit on the city’s natural hot springs. The baths were accidentally rediscovered 200 years ago, and the Roman statues and columns around the main pool are Victorian, not Roman. You can see clearly on the first picture where the original Roman work ends and where the newer Victorian begins. Also at the Roman baths was a Roman temple to the goddess Minerva, who was combined with the existing local goddess Sulis. The artwork on the temple was actually brightly painted, and so was the art that lined the Parthenon, some of which you can see in the British Museum. It all looks uncoloured today, but forensic analysis has discovered pigments. I visited Bath Abbey to end my stay in Bath. It is not called a cathedral because there is no bishop’s seat there. All the churches have priests, but not all have a higher-ranking bishop. Here are my pictures from Bath, and then I’ll move on to discuss my time at the British Museum, which I have so far overlooked on this blog.

Dsc00622 Dsc00635 Dsc00646 Dsc00654 Dsc00655 Dsc00657 The British Museum focuses on ancient artifacts, such as from the Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans. Highlights are the Rosetta Stone, which had Egyptian Hieroglyphics next to the Greek translation, allowing the glyphs to be read and understood for the first time. Some glyphs stand for sounds, and some for symbols. Before the Rosetta Stone, no one could figure out which was which and what they meant. I also saw Assyrian carvings depicting the capture of the city of Lachish, part of the kingdom of Judah under King Hezekiah. This period in history is described vividly in the Bible, and it was exciting to see a parallel account. I also saw lots of Greek and Roman pottery and sculpture, as well as a piece of the Great Sphinx in Egypt (the one with the broken nose). Finally, I saw some of the friezes taken from the Parthenon in Athens. They were originally brightly coloured, and they once lined the Parthenon around the tops of its columns. Dsc00195 Dsc00198
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Andrea: Tower of London

February 26, 2011
The Tower has held many famous prisoners in its thousand-year history; some in astonishing comfort, and others less so. Inside the Beauchamp Tower I saw lots of prisoner graffiti…

This was carved into the wall by Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, in 1587. It says, “The more suffering for Christ in this world, the more glory with Christ in the next.”

In the infamous Bloody Tower, I learned about the murder of the Little Princes, Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York. I might have the story wrong, but from what I remember, Edward V was the eldest son of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. He was born in 1470 and ascended the throne when his father died in April of 1483. Because he was only thirteen years old, a minor, his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was entrusted as Protector of his young nephews. Richard had always been a loyal and trusted supporter of his brother King Edward IV, who was the boys’ father. The coronation of Edward was set for June 22nd, 1483. It was tradition for the coronation procession to take place from the Tower of London, through the City of London to Westminster Abbey. Gloucester intercepted Edward’s entourage as it traveled to London. Many of the young king’s supporters were killed and William Hastings was arrested on a charge of treason and imprisoned in the Tower. Edward was escorted to London and then to the Tower. On June 16th, he was joined by his brother Prince Richard. The coronation was cancelled. In 1674 two skeletons were discovered in the White Tower under the stairs leading to the chapel. The skeletons were subsequently reburied in Westminster Abbey as ordered by King Charles II. The skeletons were believed to be the remains of the bodies of the two tragic Little Princes, who were reputedly killed on the orders of their uncle the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards King Richard III. Jerk.
Anyway, I also saw some instruments of torture in the Lower Wakefield Tower…
The Rack
The Scavenger’s Daughter
Five hundred years of spectacular royal armor are also on display, offering a fascinating insight into the personalities, power, and physical size of England’s kings. The skill of the royal armorers was to combine practical protection for tournaments and battle with amazing designs and decoration.

The Crown Jewels are one of the unmissable highlights of a visit to the Tower of London. This astonishing collection of priceless Coronation Regalia has been on public display at the Tower since the 17th century, with only one attempt to steal them! Photography was not allowed, but thanks to Google…

The ravens are one of the most famous sights at the Tower of London. Legend has it that Charles II was told that if the ravens left the Tower, the kingdom and the fortress would fall. Just in case, the Ravenmaster keeps a close eye on them. See him in the background?
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