Location: Salisbury, England. (O/S – SU 122 422)
Grid Reference: 51° 10′ 42" N, 1° 49.4′ W.

Stonehenge, england.The best known (and most expensive) stone circle in the world.

The monument we see today is the result of several different construction phases, with the same area having been used long before Stonehenge itself existed as testified by the adjacent cursus and large post-holes, both dated from well before construction began.

The importance of the location itself is also illustrated through the transportation of the 80 ‘Bluestones’ to the site over 250 miles.

(1887 Map of Salisbury Plain)

(Stonehenge site-plan)

The Stonehenge monument is now seen as a single part of a larger, inter-connected prehistoric ‘ceremonial’ landscape. The recent discovery of another henge-circle (Bluestonehenge), at the other end of the ‘Avenue’, along with several other significant finds are revealing indications that the whole area east of the Avon was used as a vast funerary-complex.

Quick-Links:

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Stonehenge: (Physical description of site)

The ‘Avenue’ – The outermost element of the site is the ‘Avenue’ that runs away from the site down a gentle slope for 530m into Stonehenge Bottom (and the River Avon).

The Avenue consists of twin banks about 12m (40ft) apart with internal ditches which begin at the entrance to the earthwork enclosure and terminate at the River Avon. The Stonehenge end of the avenue is aligned to the summer solstice sunrise, with the other end terminating at another henge/circle by the River Avon.

A similar ceremonial route/avenue (The ‘West-Kennet’ Avenue), ran from the River Avon past ‘Old-Sarum’ and on to Avebury. It was marked along its route by large sarsen-stones alternating between thin (male) and lozenge (female).

(More about the Avebury/Silbury complex)

‘Bluestonehenge’ – ‘Stonehenge’

It has been recently realised (2009), that the other end of the ‘Avenue’  also once had a henge-circle at its terminus. This newly discovered part of the Stonehenge landscape has been dubbed ‘Bluestonehenge’, due to the fact that it was formed of 24/25 ‘Bluestone’ menhirs, currently thought to have been later moved to Stonehenge during the second phase of construction. The discovery another such monument on the supports the idea of an intimate connection between the megliths, the landscape, the visible heavens and the after-life.

(More about ‘Bluestonehenge’)

 

The Heel-Stone – (See Photo, right) – At 20ft long (4ft underground), around 8ft wide by 7ft thick (3), this stone is a classic example of an outlier, standing at the entrance to the earthworks, and in line with ‘The Avenue‘.  The ‘Heel-stone’ is a large upright, un-worked

 

sarsen (hard sandstone) which lies immediately adjacent to the A344 road. The nearest source of stones of the size represented by the large sarsens at Stonehenge is on the Marlborough Downs, near Avebury, about 30km to the NE.

Extract

stonehenge heel-stone

from Burl – ‘The heel-stone is popularly thought to stand in line with the midsummer sunrise but it does not and never did… Astronomical analysis has shown instead that the stone is in-line with rising of the moon halfway between its northern minor and major positions’ (11).

The ‘Heel-stone is thought by some to be one of an original four stones that once stood at the entrance to the henge. In 1620, Inigo Jones sketched the proposed sarsens in-situ. (see diagram, left).

The Ditch and Bank or The ‘Henge’ – Moving inwards from the Heel Stone is an earthwork enclosure that consists of a ditch and an interior bank, the original height of which was calculated by Professor Atkinson as being about 1.8m (6ft). It is known that there were once two entrances, the one now visible (facing NE) and one to the south.

(More about Henges)

The Slaughter Stone – Lying within the entrance is an un-worked and now recumbent stone, stained a rusty red caused by rainwater acting on iron, and known as the Slaughter Stone. This stone is about 21-ft long, and although it was originally upright, it is now fallen and has now sunk so deep that only its upper end shows. Hawkins (3) makes note that while all the other stones were either bluestone or sarsen, the so called slaughter-stone is ‘of fine-grained pale green sandstone, containing so many flakes of mica that its surface, wherever freshly exposed, shows the typical mica glitter‘.

This stone seems to have come from the Cosheston Beds, composed of old red sandstone, at Milford haven on the coast of Wales, some 30miles to the southwest of the Prescilly quarries and is another example of the specific selection of stones by the builders of the European megaliths.

Stonehenge has three different types of stone in the overall  structure: Over 80 5-10 ton ‘Bluestones” from Wales, The huge 20-50 ton Sarsens from 20km north near Avebury and the mica-sandstone ‘Slaughter stone’.

(More about Specific Stone Selection)

The Station Stones – Part of  the first design (Stonehenge I), and originally four upright-stones, the ‘Station-stones form a quadrangle in the inner edge of the earthwork bank. Apart from sharing the same orientation as the ‘Avenue’, the specific significance of these stones has defied any traditional explanation by archaeologists in the past as they are unique in British prehistoric architecture.

There are however, two other examples of megalithic quadrangles in Europe, (one at Carnac in France and the other at Xarez in Portugal), both of which share several factors in common: Perhaps significantly, both are also associated with astronomy, alignments, stone-circles and all were positioned at significant latitudes.

(More about Quadrangular Structures).

Stonehenge lies on the exact latitude at which the Midsummer Sunrise and Sunsets are at 90°  of the Moons Northerly setting and Southerly rising.  This particular phenomena is only possible within a band  of less than one degree, of which Stonehenge lies in the middle-third. (17)

The only latitude where the four station stones which determine lunar and solar alignments can form an exact rectangle within the limits of the Aubrey circle is at the latitude of Stonehenge (14)

The ‘Station-stone-rectangle’ has a perimeter the same length as one side of the great pyramid. (4)

The angle created by connecting SS93 to SS91, the rectangle’s hypotenuse, is at an angle of 118° degrees, which has been noted as the same azimuth one would follow to reach Giza in Egypt. (3)

 

The Aubrey Holes – (Recently assigned a C14 date of 3,000 BC- 2,300 BC) (15).

Immediately adjacent to the bank is a ring of 56 pits, known as the Aubrey Holes, marked by circular concrete spots. The Aubrey holes were suggested by Prof. G. Hawkins (3), to have been used for calculating the phases of the moon and also for predicting the month of the year in which eclipses would take place. The area between the inner edge of the bank and the outermost stone settings includes at least two further settings of pits: the Y and Z holes. These are now believed to have once held the original ‘bluestones’.

 

The Aubrey Holes as a Lunar eclipse predictor:

It is now well known that the simplest means of modelling the movements of the Sun and Moon (Tides) is with a circle of 28 markers around a central earth. Moving a ‘Moon-marker’ one position per day and a ‘Sun-marker’ once every 13 days, provides a calendar accurate to 98%. By doubling the sun-moon calendar to 56 markers, one can obtain an accuracy of 99.8%, with the additional  benefit of being able to predict eclipses to high accuracy. (17)

The combination of astronomically relevant orientations and means of accurate calculating both solar and lunar cycles with the same ‘monument/device’ offers the clear possibility that the (original) builders were already aware of ‘Metonic‘ cycle, whereby both the cycles of the sun and moon synchronise over a period of 18.6 solar years or235 lunations with an error of only 2 hours.

(Corrected for over a period of 223.2 solar years or 2820 lunations).

(More about Megaliths and the Metonic cycle)

The Y and Z holes – Almost every one of the 59, Y and Z holes had fragments of bluestone in them.

…’Both the Y and Z circles are irregularly spaced. The holes are generally rectangular in shape, with the long axis following the circumference of their circles; and the depths average 3 feet for the Y holes, and 5 inches more for the Z’s. There were no pressure marks on the bottom of any of these holes which have been excavated-about half the holes of each circle…’

…’The filling material of these holes has been rich with archaeologically interesting finds. At the bottom and sides of them the diggers have unearthed a thin layer of chalk rubble, presumably the result of a few years of weathering before deliberate filing of the holes took place. In this earliest layer there usually was also found a single bluestone fragment of the variety called "rhyolite"…The rest of the filling of these holes was a rather uniform mass of fine dirt… Why was there at the bottom of practically every one of them that solitary bluestone fragment?…’ (3)

The Sarsen Stones – In its complete form the outermost stone setting would have consisted of a circle of 30 upright sarsens, of which 17 still stand today, each weighing around 25 tons. The tops of these uprights were linked by a continuous ring of another 30 horizontal sarsen lintels, only a small part of which is now still in position. The stones in the sarsen circle were carefully shaped and the horizontal lintels were joined not only by means of mortise-and-tenon joints, but were also locked using what is effectively a dovetail joint. The edges were smoothed into a gentle curve which follows the line of the entire circle.

Stonehenge sarsen stones

According to Peter Le Mesurier (The Stone Measurer), the Sarsen-ring (whose official inner diameter is 97ft or 1162.8 primitive inches), has a circumference of 3652.4 primitive inches, which he suggested as indicating a knowledge of the Solar year, it is also exactly one ‘quarter-aroura’, as measured in ancient Egypt (1). 

Flinders Petrie calculated the diameter at 1167.9 (+/- 0.7 British inches) (13), which works out at 1166.6 Primitive inches (giving a circumference of 3663.1 primitive inches), which although still accurate to within .03%, is not as exact as Le Mesurier suggested.

The Sarsen-ring has the same dimension as the flattened-top of nearby Silbury hill.

Stonehenge sarsen stones Stonehenge sarsen stones Stonehenge sarsen stones

The sophisticated construction techniques applied to the sarsen circle.

(Other prehistoric masonry techniques)

The Sarsen Horseshoe – Inside these two circles lies the sarsen horseshoe, consisted originally of five sarsen trilithons (a Greek word that means three stones), each comprising two uprights with a horizontal lintel. Although now fragmentary, the arrangement shows the careful grading of the five trilithons, the tallest of which is 6.7m (22ft) high above ground level. Enfolded within this massive horseshoe lies a smaller horseshoe arrangement of upright bluestones.

Stonehenge Fact:

The tallest upright stone at Stonehenge is 6.7m (22ft) high, with another 2.4m (8ft) below ground = 9.1m long and has an estimated weight of 40-50 tons.

The Bluestones – As many as 85 of the 5+ton bluestones were erected around the centre of the old ridge system, with the stones being placed 6 ft apart and approx 35 ft from the centre point. It appears that the stones formed a double circle, with a pattern of radiating spokes of two stones each. The stones were transported at least 200 miles to the site, from the eastern end of the Preseli Mountain in Wales. (9) (The distance from the quarry to Stonehenge is 140 miles as the crow flies (10), and various routes have been suggested both over-land and by sea.

The radius of the ‘Bluestone’ circle (39.6 ft) is the same as the diameter of the ‘Bluestone horseshoe’ (4).

The newly discovered ‘Bluestonehenge’ circle has same dimensions as the inner bluestone circle.

The significance of the ‘Bluestone’ is not yet fully understood. Heath suggested that the location of the quarry was determined through a geometric or geodetic process while Darvill and Wainwright (below), have suggested that the Preseli rock might have been considered to  have ‘magical’ properties, based on  inscriptions at the quarry (based on their interpretation of Neolithic rock-carvings). New research suggests that the bluestones have acoustic properties which may have played a part in the ‘veneration’ of the prehistoric Presily landscape.

(More about the source of  the  Bluestones: Carn Menyn, Presely)

Although it has been suggested recently that the Bluestones were ‘Glacial Erratics’, and were therefore  not  transported  by hand, there are two specific evidences which suggest otherwise: Firstly, there have been no other discoveries of ‘Erratic’ bluestones in the area, and  secondly, the quarry in Preseli from which the stones originated, still show remains of unfinished blocks and several Neolithic engravings.

‘There were also a small number of limestone blocks and slabs used in the construction of Stonehenge brought to the site for the specific purpose of packing material to support the much larger sarsen uprights. The limestone quarries have been identified as Chilmark, 12 miles west, and 3 miles southeast at Hurdcot’. (19)

Wiltshire archaeologist J F S Stone in 1947, excavated an area near the Cursus and discovered a scatter of bluestone fragments with a marked concentration near the Cursus itself, and in 2006 a sizeable fragment ofspotted dolerite, or bluestone was discovered in the south-western quadrant of Woodhenge. At almost exactly the same time, a member of the archaeological team under the direction of Colin Richards discovered another much smaller piece in a test pit in a field close to the western end of the Cursus.

Other samples of the same Bluestone granite have been found at other ancient and sacred sites as far removed as Denmark (18)

(More about Specific Stone Selection)

Chronology of Stonehenge.

Archaeological research has determined that this site was constructed and modified over several various phases, spanning over several centuries.

Pre-Stonehenge – 7,000 BC – Three large wooden posts were erected where the car-park is today (See photo, right). They were aligned approximately east-west.

Archaeological evidence indicates that just under a thousand years later (c. 6,000 BC), two more posts were erected only 350 metres away, also aligned east-west (16).

(Click here for diagram with location of post-holes)

Aubrey Burl had the following to say on the matter:

When  the car park was extended in 1966 three, large and deep postholes were noticed about 250 metres north-west of the circle. Their positions are marked by white rings today (now concrete posts). They had held tall posts and aroused much enthusiasm. The late Peter Newham, author of an excellent, highly regarded booklet on the astronomy of Stonehenge, wrote, ‘These can be regarded as the most positive "astronomical" discovery yet made at Stonehenge…they align on sun and moon setting positions with an extreme accuracy’…

…’The solution lies in the unpublished Carbon-14 dates for the Stonehenge postholes. One was for 6,140 BC (uncorrected), and the other for 7,180 BC (uncorrected), long before Stonehenge… If the posts near Stonehenge were Mesolithic, erected several thousands of years before the henge, then their extreme astronomical accuracy was entirely accidental. (1)

Recent discoveries such as the stone-circles at Gobekli Tepe, have altered the context of Mesolithic activities in Europe. Alongside such discoveries, and in consideration of the astronomical significance of its latitude (see below), make the findings of cardinally orientated ‘totem-poles’ at Stonehenge is no longer such an incredible idea.

The Stonehenge Cursus – Before the creation of the Stonehenge monument, the landscape would have been dominated by the nearby ‘major’ cursus, which is over a mile long and is orientated towards Wood-henge. This cursus was recently radio-carbon-dated at 3,500 BC by a team from Manchester University (8),and can be viewed as a precursor to the evolution towards the circular design of henges and stone-circles that became the fashion in Britain following a short period of cursus construction c. 3,500-3,000 BC. A contemporary evolution in design (from elongated cursus to circular henges) can also be seen atThornborough in Northern England.

An artistic representation of the Stonehenge cursus (including both sites?).

(More about Cursus)

Stonehenge 1 – (3,200 BC) (11): Construction of the circular bank and ditch ‘The Henge’, the 56 Aubrey Holes, and the ‘Station stones’. (At this stage, the elements of Stonehenge indicate a lunar observation).

In the first construction, the sun apparently, ‘did not interest the henge builders’. (11)

Traces of the Welsh ‘Blue-stone’ have been found in the Aubrey Holes suggesting that they originally held stones in them, and might have been an element of the monument even at this early time. (15)

Recent discoveries by the Stonehenge Riverside Project have produced radiocarbon dates from cremations within the area bounded by the henge monument. The earliest, 3030-2880 BC, comes from a cremation of an adult within one of the Aubrey Holes. The most recent dates to between 2570 and 2340 BC. It was the remains of a woman in her mid twenties buried in the northern ditch. In all, around 240 people were buried within the henge.

(More about Henges)

Stonehenge II – (c. 3,000 BC): Widening of the old ditch-bank (3) with pottery, animal bones, and cremated human remains placed back in the ditch; cremations also deposited in some of the partially filled Aubrey Holes and a complex of posts in the interior and in the entrance causeway.

The major structural addition at this time was the erection of roughly 80 bluestones, weighing up to 5 tons each, which were set up in two concentric circles around the centre. It is currently believed that the original 56 stones from the Aubrey holes were used, along with another 24 from the recently  discovered ‘Bluestonehenge’, at the other end of the ‘Avenue’.

Stonehenge III – (c. 2,400-2,600 BC): Double circle of bluestones taken down and replaced with around 80 sarsen stones, weighing between 25 and 50 tons each. These were formed into a circle of continuous trilithon’s, with a Horse-shoe of five larger independent Trilithon’s were erected in the centre. The stones were quarried from the Marlborough Downs about 20 miles north. (9).

Article: Antiquity (Volume 81 No. 313 September 2007), by Mike Parker Pearson et al entitled “The age of Stonehenge”. It is a summary of progress so far on the Stonehenge Riverside Project and the Beaker isotope project, and contains some interesting and important revelations about the Stonehenge and its landscape.

It is now thought that the trilithon’s were erected not circa 2,300 BCE, but between 2,600-2,400 BCE, making them contemporary with Durrington Walls. They now predate the earliest Beaker burials in Britain, shaking our understanding of the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age….

(Link to summary).

The architectural uniqueness of this design has led many to suggest a ‘foreign’ influence.

A Mycenaean Influence?

‘There is strong evidence that they (the builders of Stonehenge III) were in communication with the great contemporary Mediterranean civilisations of Minoan Crete, Mycenaean Greece, Egypt, and the ancestors of the travelling-trading Phoenicians….Atkinson inclines seriously towards this theory, stressing the importance of the evidence of the dagger carvings and axe carvings (below), as well as Mediterranean artefacts found in the burials of Stonehenge, and pointing out that Stonehenge is is unique not only in the elegance of its construction but also the fact that it is the only stone monument built by the Wessex people.’ (3)

The surface shows signs of numerous weathered ‘daggers’.

It is perhaps a coincidence that the Mycenaean’s were constructing curved lintels at  the  same time that Stonehenge III was being constructed c. 2,400 BC.

Link to Mycenaea, Greece.

Mycenaean curved lintels at the ‘Treasury of Atraeus’ (left), and the ‘Lion-tomb’ (right).

(Click here for more about Mycenaea)

Traditions, Myths and Legends – Early mention of Stonehenge was made in 1135 by chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, who claimed that it was brought by a tribe of giants from Africa to Ireland, and from there flown by the wizard Merlin across the sea. Another legend claims that the stones were stolen from an Irish woman by the Devil, and re-erected on Salisbury Plain by Merlin for Ambrosius Aurelianus, the King of Britons.

Didorus Siculus wrote in 50 BC – ‘The moon when viewed from this island appears to be but a little distance from the Earth. The account is given also that the god visits the island every 19 yrs, the period in which the return of the stars to the same place in the heavens is accomplished. There is also in the island both a magnificent sacred fane of Apollo, and a notable temple’ (14)

Astronomical significance of Stonehenge:

Apart from the inherent prejudice against the Neolithic awareness of astronomy and geometry, there are several stubborn and irrefutable facts about Stonehenge which suggest exactly that…

The Stonehenge latitude: Firstly, and perhaps most important, is  the location of  the  site itself, which happens to be on the exact latitude so as to encompass several important astronomical observations from the same location. Indeed, the earliest evidence of construction at Stonehenge are the ‘car-park post-holes’, which are accurately aligned east-west, and can therefore be considered likely astronomical in nature.

Stonehenge lies at the exact latitude at which the Sun and the Moon have their maximum settings at 90° of each other as illustrated by the station-stones.

There are only latitudes in the world it which, the full moon passes directly overhead on its maximum Zeniths, these are at Stonehenge and Almendres in Portugal (The oldest circle in Western-Europe).

The Design of the Monument: In addition to having a significant latitude, the layout of the site also incorporates several other intrinsic astronomical orientations. In particular, from the earliest phase of  construction (c. 3,200-3,000 BC).

Prof. Hawkins (3), determined that the 56 ‘Aubrey holes’ were placed so as to calculate  both the 18.6 year lunar cycle and eclipses.

The ‘Station-stone’ quadrangle, placed into the circumference of the ‘Aubrey-holes’, can be used to measure the extremes of both the lunar and solar cycles.

These two design features make it possible to measure the ‘Metonic cycle’.

As well as this, the alignment formed by the ‘Avenue’, continues in both directions to connect several prominent megalithic sites along the azimuth of the summer solstice sunrise.

(More about Archaeo-Astronomy)

Geometry and Alignments:

The last phase of  development (Phase III), at Stonehenge shows a clear geometric foundation, with the 30 equally spaced upright sarsen-stones set in a perfect circle.

According to Peter Le Mesurier, the Sarsen-ring (whose official inner diameter is 97ft or 1162.8 primitive inches), has a circumference of 3652.4 primitive inches, which he suggested as indicating a knowledge of the Solar year, it is also exactly one ‘quarter-aroura’, as measured in ancient Egypt (1). 

Stonehenge is geometrically aligned with several other ancient sites.

stonehenge geometry astronomy geodesy

The ‘Sanctuary’, near Avebury is on the same longitude of 1° 49′ W and is exactly 1/4° North.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury form a right angled triangle, of which the Glastonbury-Avebury follows the azimuth of the sun on ‘May-day’ while the line from Stonehenge to Aveburycontinues north to Arbor-low exactly 2° north.

Sir Norman Lockyer, the Astronomer Royal, noticed that Stonehenge, Grovely Castle and Old Sarum formed a near-perfect equilateral triangle, with each side 6 miles in length. The Stonehenge-Old Sarum alignment continues south past Salisbury cathedral (built 1220 AD), Clearbury ring and Frankenbury (6). The Stonehenge-Grovely castle alignment extends to the North-East beyond St Peters mound, Inkpen beacon, and the Neolithic ‘Winterbourne camp’. To the South-West the line continues past Grovely Castle, Castle ditches and the ‘Cerne-Abbas‘ giant to Puncknowle beacon on the South coast.

Stonehenge is also a part of the proposed Landscape ‘Decagondiscovered by John Michell.

(More about English Geodesy).

What’s new at Stonehenge.

Article: ‘Bluestonehenge’: New henge-circle discovered near Stonehenge (2009)

British archaeologists have found the remains of a massive stone henge, or ceremonial circle, that was part of the ancient and celebrated Stonehenge complex, a find that is shedding new light on how the monument was built and its religious uses.
The new henge, called ‘Bluestonehenge‘ because it was built with blue Preseli dolerite mined more than 150 miles away in Wales, was on the banks of the River Avon, where ancient pilgrims carrying the ashes of their dead relatives began the journey from the river to Stonehenge, nearly two miles away. Some are calling it the "little sister" of Stonehenge.
The approximately 25 massive bluestones were erected in a circle about 5,000 years ago, and eventually were encircled by a ditch and an earthen embankment. About 500 years later, however, the stones were moved and incorporated into Stonehenge itself. All that is left of the circle are the holes where the stones sat in the ground and a few chips of dolerite.
The fact that the monument was found at the beginning of an avenue leading to Stonehenge and near the river "not only solidifies the view that Stonehenge covers the entire landscape, but also the sacred importance of the river itself," said archaeologist Christine Hastorf of UC Berkeley, who was not involved in the research.
"It means that there was a link between Stonehenge and the water, out to the ocean," she said.

So far, they have found nine holes that they believe were part of a 30-foot-wide circle of about 25 standing stones. The holes are too wide and shallow for them to have contained wooden posts. The holes are also too small to have held sarsen stones, the larger limestone rocks that form part of Stonehenge and that were mined at Marlborough Downs 25 miles to the north.
But the dimensions correlate precisely with those of bluestones in the inner circle of Stonehenge.
The stone circle at ‘Bluestonehenge’ was eventually replaced by a henge, a circular ditch nearly 74 feet across with an external bank. Broken antler pickaxes in the ditch date its construction to about 2470 BC to 2280 BC. At least one entrance has been discovered, on the east side, and it contained a specially placed deposit of antlers, an antler pickaxe, cattle bones and stone and flint tools.
The team also found the riverside end of the avenue to Stonehenge. It was marked by two parallel ditches about 54 feet apart. These originally held posts, forming a small palisade on either side. The avenue apparently terminated at or close to the outer bank of the newly discovered henge.
Archaeologist Josh Pollard of Bristol University, a co-director of the project, noted that the circle "should be considered an integral part of Stonehenge rather than a separate monument, and it offers tremendous insight into the history of its famous neighbour."
Previous research had shown that Stonehenge originally consisted of 56 bluestones set in a circle inside a ditch and bank. Sometime about 2500 BC, those stones were moved to their current location, leaving behind the holes now known as Aubrey holes. But there are 80 bluestones in Stonehenge and only 56 Aubrey holes, Parker Pearson said.
"Where did the other 24 stones come from? I think we have solved that problem. They uprooted the other circle and moved the stones. Why they did it, we don’t know."
But "what it tells us for sure is that the river is essential to understanding Stonehenge," Parker Pearson added, because why else would the ancient builders have erected a monument there? Burning ceremonies appear to have been important rites at the site as well. When the stones at Bluestonehenge were pulled out, a lot of topsoil fell in, and that topsoil, the team found, is full of charcoal. "They were building a lot of fires there. That may have been where they were cremating bodies" before burying them at Stonehenge, Parker Pearson said.
But the work is not done. For example, Parker Pearson said the team thinks it has located the quarry where the sarsen stones were excavated and is now working to confirm the identification.
The discovery was announced by the National Geographic Society, which funded much of the research.

(Link to full article)

Stonehenge dig: BBC ‘Timewatch’ (2008)

Following the archaeological dig by BBC Timewatch at Stonehenge in 2008, a new theory emerged suggesting that the site may have once acted as a prehistoric ‘Lourdes’.

Prof’s Darville and Wainwright are convinced that the primary purpose of the circle was akin to a "Neolithic Lourdes" – a place where people went on a pilgrimage to get cured:

‘A significant proportion of the newly discovered Neolithic remains show clear signs of skeletal trauma. Some had undergone operations to the skull, or had walked with a limp, or had broken bones. Modern techniques have established that many of these people had clearly travelled huge distances to get to south-west England, suggesting they were seeking supernatural help for their ills’.

‘Darvill and Wainwright have also traced the bluestones – to the exact spot they came from in the Preseli hills, 250km away in the far west of Wales. Neolithic inscriptions found at this location indicate the ancient people there believed the stones to be magical and for the local waters to have healing properties’.

Q. Has someone managed to decipher a Neolithic language?

While this theory may well have substance, it fails to take into acocunt the astronomical significance of the location of Stonehenge, namely:  There are only two latitudes in the world at which you get the full moon on the Zenith, at Stonehenge and Almendres (Portugal), in addition to which Stonehenge lies at the exact latitude at which the Sun and the Moon have their maximum settings at 90° of each other.

Following the 2008 dig on the Aubrey Hole No 7, it was announced that the compacted chalk showed signs of the hole once having held a stone in it. The same compacted chalk marks have been found in other Aubrey holes, which revives the old theory that they were the original sitting places for the 56 Bluestones, which according to this report, would have been there since Stonehenge I. c. 3,000 BC.

‘Contrary to claims made in the recent BBC Timewatch film, which promoted a theory of Stonehenge as a healing centre built after the practice of cremation burial had ceased, standing stones and burial of the dead may have been prominent aspects of Stonehenge’s meaning and purpose for a millennium’. (15)

(Link to article on BBC Website)

Article: Arts and Humanities Research Council. (2008) –

A new excavation of Stonehenge, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has revealed that one of the Aubrey holes probably held a standing stone.

‘The excavation of Aubrey Hole 7 was directed over one week in August 2008 by Mike Parker-Pearson, Mike Pitts and Julian Richards for the Stonehenge Riverside Project… The pit had already been excavated twice: when discovered in 1920, and again in 1935 when all the cremated human bone found earlier at Stonehenge was reburied. Recovery of this bone for modern examination was the prime goal of the new dig (the bone was in excellent condition, and study will begin over the winter).

Another reason was to look at the Aubrey Hole itself – the first to be seen open since 1950. It was believed that these pits had been dug for oak poles, but Parker-Pearson had revived an old interpretation that they had held bluestones: the evidence of crushed and compacted chalk had been recorded in 1920 in three of the pits. He says, “Aubrey Hole 7 had crushed chalk on its base indicative of a standing stone. This had been missed by archaeologists twice before: it seems likely that similar evidence still survives in other Aubrey Holes. We propose that very early in Stonehenge’s history, 56 Welsh bluestones stood in a ring 285 feet 6 inches (87m) across”. He concludes, “This has sweeping implications for our understanding of Stonehenge.”

Professor Mike Parker-Pearson at the University of Sheffield says, “If all 56 pits had held stones, this would have been one of the first and largest stone circles in the country, made of Welsh bluestones in 3,000 BC. A recent claim that these stones arrived at Stonehenge in 2,300 BC would then relate to the time when the bluestones were moved into the centre of the site 700 years later. Stonehenge’s history as envisaged since the 1950s is overturned.”

The new evidence from Aubrey Hole 7 suggests megaliths were present throughout Stonehenge’s existence. The first three radiocarbon dates for human cremation burials, obtained in May from the only bones then available for study, range between about 3,000 and 2,300 BC’.

(Link to full article)

Article: The ‘Amesbury Archer’ – King of Stonehenge: (2002)

‘The latest tests on the Amesbury Archer, whose grave astonished archaeologists last year with the richness of its contents, show he was originally from the Alps region, probably Switzerland, Austria or Germany. The tests also show that the gold hair tresses found in the grave are the earliest gold objects found in Britain.

The grave of the Archer, who lived around 2,300BC, contained about 100 items, more than ten times as many objects as any other burial site from this time. When details were released, the media dubbed the Archer “The King of Stonehenge”.

The grave was found three miles from Stonehenge, near Amesbury in Wiltshire, last May during an excavation by Wessex Archaeology, based nearby at Salisbury, in advance of the building of a new housing scheme and school.

The Archer was obviously an important man, and because he lived at the same time that the stones at Stonehenge were first being built, archaeologists believe he may have been involved in its creation.

Tests were carried out on the Archer’s teeth and bones and on the objects found in the grave, which included two gold hair tresses, three copper knives, flint arrowheads, wrist-guards and pottery. They show that he came from the Alps region, and that the copper knives came from Spain and France. This is evidence of the wide trade network that existed in the early Bronze Age. The gold dated to as early as 2,470 BC, the earliest gold objects found in Britain’.

(Link to full article)

Gallery of Images

stonehenge

Early Image of Stonehenge from 1877.

stonehenge early image

1920’s Reconstruction.

stonehenge face

One of  the ‘faces’ at Stonehenge.

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