|Not quite Woolf's black-cape clad shepherds, but he does have a staff.|
I was also impressed with what a strong writer she was at this point, and with her touch of self irony in describing so romantic a scene as the shepherds. I took the time to really think about what it might like to stay in a spot for two months on holiday and have the ability to return to favorite destinations. Most of us see Stonehenge once and must move on (even if we happen to be living nearby, as I was in London).
It is also interesting to me that Woolf was reading Hardy's Tess at this time, and mentions it in her journal, but says nothing about imagining Tess at Stonehenge. I also find it fascinating that Woolf saw Stonehenge so strongly through a religious lens: when I was there I was interested in it primarily as a historic cultural site, an archeological "treasure." (And I just might have seen Tess ... :))
Woolf's diary of Sept 5, 1903
…our two visits to Stonehenge have impressed such pictures on my mind as I never wish to be obliterated.
We made a second expedition today … I would rather call it a pilgrimage: because in truth we went with all reverence with a pure design to enjoy ourselves. A day spent happily in the open air, counts, I am sure ‘whatever Gods there be,’ as worship; the air is a Temple in which one is purged of one’s sins.
We drove [in a horse-drawn cart] over the Downs, instead of the by-road, a straighter and more interesting way … a showery morning …
On the plain itself, the only people we passed were shepherds, they drift about in the wide space with their flocks, just as though they were in the Bible; they take advantage of this wet weather too; to add one bold stroke to their appearance, which, I as an artist would hesitate to introduce; I should be half afraid of over picturesqueness: they wear long black cloaks reaching down to their heels, & flapping in capes round the shoulders: in one hand too they grasp a real shepherds staff. You may actually see one of these figures lying on his elbow, wrapped in his cloak, his dog lolling out his tongue beside him, & his flock grazing all around.
We lunched—& we walked across to Stonehenge & sat within the Circle. Our choice of a day gave us the whole place to ourselves. The solitary policeman whose strange lot in life is to mount guard over Stonehenge had taken shelter behind one of his charges. The apoplectic sheep, who can imitate a standing motor car which is still palpitating to perfection, were grazing outside the Circle, & as far as we could see we had not only Stonehenge, but the whole ocean of plain entirely to ourselves. One can imagine why this spot was chosen by the Druids—or whoever they were—for their Temple to the Sun. It lies very naked to the sun. It is a kind of altar made of earth, on which the whole world might do sacrifice.