President Barack Obama made an unscheduled stop on his return from a NATO summit, surprising local residents as he paused to visit Stonehenge.
After flying out of Newport in South Wales, Marine One unexpectedly landed at Boscombe Down Airbase in Wiltshire, according to the Daily Mail. President Obama then traveled by motorcade for 20 minutes across Salisbury plain to visit the ancient monument, where, as BBC News notes, he was given a guided tour by curator Heather Sebire.
Obama visited Stonehenge today. More pictures: http://t.co/WpQoLVFZMp (Photo by Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/8F3p0gUFAb
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 5, 2014
"How cool is this?" President Obama asked reporters. "Knocked it off the bucket list."
The presidential visit was a shock for locals, including 35-year-old Janice Raffle, who walked to Stonehenge with her husband and three children from their home a mile away. Stuck at a fence, they took photos of the motorcade before President Obama wandered over to say hello. He then posed for a photograph with the family.
"I squealed like a teenager!": Family's joy at Stonehenge brush with Obama http://t.co/AmheAOrEbB pic.twitter.com/sQpZNhsOe4 — ITV News (@itvnews) September 5, 2014
The president was afforded the rare privilege of being allowed to walk right up to the stones. Other visitors to the site are only able to approach that closely during the summer solstice. Sebire, English Heritage's Stonehenge curator, revealed how awed President Obama was by the monument.
"Mr. Obama was fascinated by the story of the stones, what we know about them and the mysteries that have yet to be solved. He asked lots of questions about how old the monument is, how long it took to build it, and what was its purpose. He described the atmosphere around the stones as 'really special' and his visit to Stonehenge as 'a highlight of my tour.' He particularly loved seeing the color and texture of the stones. It was a beautiful still evening and it was a privilege to show the U.S. President around this unique monument which continues to inspire and intrigue people."
Though it is undeniably ancient, new discoveries are still being made at the mysterious, poorly understood site. As The Inquisitr noted just weeks ago, scientists studying Stonehenge revealed their discovery of 15 other monuments buried under the grassy plain that surrounds the area.
Photos: President Obama Visits Stonehenge by @NerdyWonka http://t.co/XtvbcrmzcH pic.twitter.com/0nutYDCdrB
— TheObamaDiary.com (@TheObamaDiary) September 5, 2014
English Heritage, which manages Stonehenge, called it an honor to host President Obama.
[Image via Daily Mail]