It isn’t rare to catch my dad watching some questionable television shows. Though I
have seen him occasionally watch certain reality TV shows that even I would cringe at,
nothing beats watching my dad watch shows about aliens and UFOs. My brother and I will
occasionally watch with him to “learn” about some unique urban legends, or look at each
other during some of the more insane conspiracy theories, but the one landmark that is
supposedly riddled with aliens, or more likely alien watchers, is Stonehenge.
Built from 3000 BC to 2000 BC, Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire,
England theorized to be an ancient burial ground or spiritual monument. Though
numerous scientists and historians have debated on the exact origins and purpose of the
area, its appearances in the Arthurian legends and local folklore have made it one of the
most famous sites in the world. Today, Stonehenge receives thousands of visitors during
the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the summer. In 2013, the day was celebrated with
more than 20,000 people in attendance.
While Stonehenge’s theories may also include proposals that the site was built as a
giant sundial, Greenwich is where time begins. Every day at 1 PM an orange ball named the
Greenwich Time Ball drops as world clocks all adjust to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It
may not be as dramatic as when the crystal ball drops on Time Square, but the occasion still
marks Greenwich as the first clock that chimes at midnight to signal a new day. The Royal
Observatory houses the official marker of the Prime Meridian line. Entrance does come
with a fee, but with some clever trick photography Dr. Hocktong managed to snap a photo
of the line. It turned out to be, however, a photo of a postcard he had purchased. Mr. Hanadi
tried to copy his technique to no avail.
Alien theories may have been the strangest topic of the day, but the strangest sight
of the day had to be the beached whale lying on the shores of Greenwich. The lack of smell
threw me off for a moment, and it wasn’t until later that I found out it was an art
installation. Made out of fiberglass, the beached whale also had some actors dressed up as
“experts” assessing the situation. The installation was part of the Greenwich and Docklands
International Festival and “relives” the beaching of a real whale in the area seven years ago.
It also plays tribute to Greenwich’s major role in the whaling industry in the 1700s.
Legends, conspiracy theories, and fake realistically crafted beached whales aside,
the history and allure of Greenwich and Stonehenge have stood the test of time and
continue to be sites people will hear and visit many years to come.