Monday, July 4, 2011

First Weekend Excursion!

This weekend Aaron and I went on a trip to visit more of the island!

First we went to Cardiff in Southern Wales, which is the capital of Wales, and is the home of Cardiff Castle.  The castle is split into two main parts.  The oldest part is the center keep on a hill with a moat.  Very old and authentic, the keep is a huge circular wall open in the center, with a tall gatehouse up the front wall.  Originally this is where the people would hold up during a siege, and it looked very defensible. There is a tall wall around the perimeter of the grounds that was built later.  It is impressive, but would require a lot of men to properly defend due to its length.  The other main section of the castle is the nobility residences that were built later.  They included several tall towers, grand halls, and a library.  Overall very worth seeing.

We then took the train to Caerphilly, site of the first castle built with concentric wall defenses in Britain, Caerphilly Castle.  Caerphilly Castle is one of the coolest castles I have ever seen, and I definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.  It is surrounded by age old man-made lakes to keep the castle out of range of trebuchets, has several rows of complete moats and huge walls, with drawbridges and portcullises, and a grand keep in the center, with tall towers and great halls, and the famous "leaning tower of Caerphilly"!  No joke, the tower is leaning, and split open too.

We then took the train to Bath and saw the famous Roman bath houses, and Bath Abbey.  When the Romans conquered Britain in the early first century they looked for ways to make it like their home in Rome, and the natural hot springs in Bath were a great example of this.  During Roman times an enormous structure stood next to where the Abbey is today, including the bath houses and a temple for worship.  Today you can walk below the present day city level to see the original Roman Baths, as well as many artifacts that have been uncovered.  The Abbey is also quite nice, with tremendous fan vault ceilings.

We then went to Salisbury, and took the bus to see Stonehenge.  I'm not sure these enormous stones even need an introduction, but I'll just say I can't even imagine the amount of work it took to drag them from Southern Wales to central England.  Did you know they have been standing there for 4,000 years?  Definitely worth the trip, make sure you see them.

On our return to Salisbury we went to see the Salisbury Cathedral, which is the tallest cathedral in all of Britain; its spire rises 404 feet into the sky.  We were unable to go in as it closes early on Sunday evenings, but we very well might make a trip back to climb the spire.  It was built in the 1200's, and only took 38 years to complete, which blows my mind.

In any case, we are finally back in Oxford studying again, keep an eye open for updates!

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