Stonehenge – Wednesday 13th March
It’s one of those days where the sun is bright bright but the sky is full of fluffy metal grey clouds. We have escaped the snow that has afflicted the country less than a hundred miles to the east of Stonehenge, but not the bitter winds.
The Stonehenge Tour Bus has changed its colours. So far in our time here, red and black double deckers with a graphic image of the stone circle have brought visitors from Salisbury train station up to the ancient stones, but it seems they’re rebranding. A new addition to the fleet passes us on the road to the visitor centre and it’s painted orange and brown – very 70s.
The field next to the car park is full of sheep, the field on the far side of the Cursus is full of sheep, and the meadow next to the monument field is full of sheep. No lambs yet, but at that point I expect sales of sheep related memorabilia in the Stonehenge shop will go through the roof.
The birds are providing the dominant soundscape this morning. The starlings are back and they’re great chatterboxes.
Mark Anstee is in trauma. He’s finished his silverpoint trilithon, 69 hours worth of drawing on one study, and now he’s unsure of how to continue. There’s a full stop looming and it’s difficult to know what’s next. He goes up to the stones for a look around while I wait in the truck.
After a few minutes he’s back. He’s definitely finished the study so it’s time for a coffee and a moment to reflect. Really he’d like to do the reverse of the trilithon but that’s a view afforded past visitors to Stonehenge, right now the tourist view is from the distance of the guide rope and not from within the stone circle.
We walk up to the monument field together, through the entrance tunnel and on to the tarmac path. Mark is carrying a new drawing board, a piece of clean white prepared paper attached to it.
The nearest complete trilithon to the tarmac path is much smaller than the one Mark has been drawing. It’s almost furry with green lichen. Shorter than the great inner trilithons it would have been part of the run of sarsen uprights with linking lintels forming the outer stone circle. So really, it never was an actual trilithon. Now, with a lintel balancing across the top, it’s a classic door shape, the opening between the sarsens large enough to walk through. The great Trilithon doesn’t present like this, the gap between might suggest a portal to another place but it’s not an invite for a person of any substance to step through.
Mark sets up his stool and sits down to consider this as a new study. I take a tour around the stones with all the other international tourists.
A bunch of young Germans are posing for photos, rather alarmingly with Nazi salutes.
The sheep are being very vocal in the meadow, their bleats echoing on the wind.
When I get right round and back to the artist, he’s started a brand new drawing, mapping out the shape of the smaller accidental trilithon in silverpoint.