Recently my wife and I spent a weekend in New England. There were a lot of places that I wanted to visit, but time was limited. I decided to take Nat to see one of my favorite places, America's Stonehenge, in Salem, NH.
No, this is not the one built out of cars. This is a real henge, made out of stones, presumably by ancient space astronauts (my personal theory). While the stones are probably not nearly as large as its more famous brother (sister?) in England, I would say this site is probably far more interesting. Not only was part of it used for calendaring, there are various walls, man-made caves, and even a sacrificial table.
The day was hot and sticky, and I wished several times that I had opted for a t-shirt, rather than my favorite bowling shirt. Fortunately the rest of my clothes were up to the task, and we enjoyed the short hike to the site. I had been there once before, and knew what to expect (other than the heat). We both had copies of the self-guided tour paper with us, and my wife made sure to read each descriptor, while I largely ignored it.
There are two parts of the site that are truly interesting to me. Yes, the calendar aspect is kind of cool. But I really find the Oracle Chamber and the Sacrificial Table fascinating. It would seem that the site was designed for the masses to be kept at a safe distance while religious leaders had closer access to work their wonders. There are large stones that seem strategically-placed with this in mind.
The Sacrificial Table is easily visible from above. There are grooves cut into the stone, which are stained with blood. Whether this blood is human or animal, I don't know. Perhaps the ancient space astronauts were sacrificing one of their own.
Before you get to the table however, you get to walk through the Oracle Chamber. My wife, not knowing yet what this room was, did not want to go inside. She got all sorts of freaky-weird feelings when she got near it. I explained to her what it was, and her fears seemed to dissapate. There was a space inside where a person could hide, and a "speaking tube" that led from the Oracle Chamber to underneath the sacrificial table. It is thought that a priest would hide in the chamber and speak, as if a metaphysical being, through the tube to the masses gathered outside.
As we left the site, we walked by the alpacas who live onsite. My wife made sure to mention several times that llamas spit, and that we should keep our distance. I think it was a reference to something.
If you ever find yourself near Salem, NH, you should take a couple of hours and head on down to the henge. The people there are nice, they sell cold bottled water (recommended) and the site itself is fun to walk through and theorize about its origins. You might even want to pay attention to the guided tour. You might learn something.