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Stonehenge - the very word is redolent of history, reeking of violence and surrounded in myth and legend - all this sounds like a good basis for a 'Doctor Who' episode, maybe even a 'two-parter', right? Cue, 'The Pandorica Opens' followed by 'The Big Bang'.

Stonehenge dates from between 2,000 and 3,000 BC, and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned by the U.K. Government and administered by English Heritage. I suppose that you could say that I was lucky, living for 12 years in the same county as Stonehenge; but you would be wrong. If I drove south during the summer months, past Avebury, I would start to meet the tour 'buses - dozens of them, and if I was foolish enough to travel the A344 road to the English Heritage site opposite the Henge itself, I would be overwhelmed by literally thousands of visitors, from Japan, China, France, and the rest of the world. If you want to visit, you are forced through the 'sausage machine' of the crowded parking lot, pay gates and the underpass beneath the A344, before you finally get as close as you are going to get to the stones (and yes, some of them are almost as old as Mick Jagger!)

I can mangle several languages (according to my s-i-l my Welsh is terrible, but I'm NEARLY proficient in English!) so I can generally pick up what some of the crowd are saying, and I must report that the overwhelming reaction is - 'Isn't it SMALL!' Stonehenge was part of a bigger complex; it is now thought that there was a related settlement nearby, possibly associated with servicing the activities on site, but even so, Stonehenge itself is not Parthanon-sized, and it is dwarfed by the Coliseum.

Never the less, Stonehenge and the local area is at the very core of 'The Pandorica Opens', the nail-biting start of a two-part finale to Series 5 in the 'reboot'. I really enjoyed the night-time scenes at the Henge, and especially the defiant Doctor, when he threatens the massed forces of the Alliance - whilst being completely unarmed. The story weaves River Song and Amy and Rory together well, and the poignant reveal of 'Rory' as an Auton and the killing of Amy is well done. This turned out to be the first time that a significant portion of a Doctor Who episode (in the second iteration) was shot on location outside of Wales.

As an historical aside, the 'date' is given as 102 AD (as carved in the diamond cliff of Planet 1 by River Song). This actually fits in with local history, as there was a Roman camp and look-out post at nearby Silbury Hill (as discovered by archeology). The Legion concerned could well have been Legio II Augustus which was headquatered in this part of the province of Britannia - a pity they turned out to be Autons (which would have made then even more efficient killing machines than a Roman Legion)! One quirk is that it was the Romans, apparently, who severely damaged Stonehenge, at some time during their occupation; this might have been due to their associating the structure with the Druidic religion.

I like Stonehenge, but it is far too crowded for my liking. That is why the 'locals' - and I used to be one - go to the magnificent earthworks and megaliths at Avebury, to the north. Unfortunately, the Doctor hasn't been there, yet - although its just a question of time!

Originally posted to shortfinals on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 08:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by Whovians on DKos.

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