Category Archive 'Stonehenge'
15 Feb 2021
The Guardian reports on an interesting new discovery concerning Stonehenge.
An ancient myth about Stonehenge, first recorded 900 years ago, tells of the wizard Merlin leading men to Ireland to capture a magical stone circle called the Giants’ Dance and rebuilding it in England as a memorial to the dead.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account had been dismissed, partly because he was wrong on other historical facts, although the bluestones of the monument came from a region of Wales that was considered Irish territory in his day.
Now a vast stone circle created by our Neolithic ancestors has been discovered in Wales with features suggesting that the 12th-century legend may not be complete fantasy.
Its diameter of 110 metres is identical to the ditch that encloses Stonehenge and it is aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise, just like the Wiltshire monument.
A series of buried stone-holes that follow the circle’s outline has been unearthed, with shapes that can be linked to Stonehenge’s bluestone pillars. One of them bears an imprint in its base that matches the unusual cross-section of a Stonehenge bluestone “like a key in a lock”, the archaeologists discovered.
Mike Parker Pearson, a professor of British later prehistory at University College London, told the Guardian: “I’ve been researching Stonehenge for 20 years now and this really is the most exciting thing we’ve ever found.”
The evidence backs a century-old theory that the nation’s greatest prehistoric monument was built in Wales and venerated for hundreds of years before being dismantled and dragged to Wiltshire, where it was resurrected as a second-hand monument.
Geoffrey had written of “stones of a vast magnitude” in his History of the Kings of Britain, which popularised the legend of King Arthur, but which is considered as much myth as historical fact.
Parker Pearson said there may well be a “tiny grain” of truth in his account of Stonehenge: “My word, it’s tempting to believe it … We may well have just found what Geoffrey called the Giants’ Dance.”
The discovery will be published in Antiquity, the peer-reviewed journal of world archaeology, and explored in a documentary on BBC Two on Friday presented by Prof Alice Roberts
It may be that the British policy of relocating antiquities like the Elgin Marbles goes back farther than anyone ever realised.
11 Feb 2019
“the narrative that Stonehenge has been ruined by mass tourism goes back a long way. Even Samuel Pepys complained of being ripped off by shepherds and innkeepers.”
Viewing Stonehenge is currently disrupted by the roar of traffic and the glare of headlights after dusk, but moving the road north or south has issues and putting it underneath the site in a tunnel has been found to be too expensive.
Even celebratory ceremonies always seem to go wrong.
The Guardian looks at the plethora of controversies currently raging round the landmark.
To celebrate the millennium, an ill-fated project, funded with Â£100,000 from the national lottery, attempted to re-enact the fetching of a single three-tonne dolerite bluestone from Wales to Wiltshire. The original plan was for volunteers, some 40 a day, to wear â€œâ€˜appropriate clothingâ€™ of skins and fursâ€. But that had to be abandoned for safety reasons, according to Mike Pittsâ€™ book Hengeworld â€“ and many of the volunteers drifted away, disenchanted by the awful task. After eventually loading the boulder on to a boat at Milford Haven, from where it was meant to travel up the Bristol channel, a frisky wind saw it tumble into the sea. At this point it was rescued, using the un-neolithic technology of a crane, and transported on a flatbed truck to the botanical gardens in Carmarthenshire, 140 miles from Stonehenge, where it remains. As a spokesman for Pembrokeshire council remarked at the time: â€œStone-age man never had the health-and-safety people looking over his shoulder.â€
13 Sep 2017
Stonehenge sold in 1915 for Â£6,600, with a pretty decent house thrown in. Today, they get almost 1.4 million visitors a year, many of whom pay the full Â£16.50 admission price.
From the archives of Country Life.
Obviously you and I were unable to bid, not yet having been born. My father was one-year-old, so he, too, was out of luck. But what were my useless grandparents doing?
06 Feb 2016
Architect presents radical new theory that Stonehenge was a two-storey, wooden feasting and performance hall
Could the prehistoric Stonehenge megaliths once have been the support for a wooden, two-storey roundhouse, a venue for feasting, speakers and musicians? Thatâ€™s the theory of an English landscape architect who designed a small model of what she has in mind and is looking for money to build a 1:10 scale model of the structure.
Sarah Ewbank says the fact she is not an archaeologist has freed her from preconceived notions and allowed her to approach the matter in a fresh way.
Ms Ewbank told Ancient Origins via email about her vision of Stonehenge:
â€œI believe Stonehenge was a Bronze-age venue, a large oval hall encircled and overlooked by galleries. Interestingly the upper level was tiered, the height of different sections reflecting the different height trilithons. Consider both hall and galleries filled, listening to a speaker, or maybe there was feasting on the galleries with dancing below, perhaps crowds gathered to listen to singing or musicians playing, or maybe ceremonies took place to welcome in the solstices. It all sounds rather splendid and certainly needed â€“ there were no electronic gadgets then!
My view â€“ such a splendid building deserved to be used often â€“ so, much as the Albert Hall in London serves to accommodate every type of gathering, so I believe our Bronze-age ancestors used Stonehenge whenever such a venue was required. Our bronze-age ancestors were intelligent people with needs similar to ours today. Forget the furry loin cloth and ritual sacrifice stuff – it’s wrong.â€
She said sheâ€™s discussed her theories with other experts. Some of them agree with her interpretation of the buildingâ€™s use, but others strongly disagree and argue for the traditional view.
Ms. Ewbank speculates that the sides of the house were made of oak and the roof of thatching. Of course, it is highly unlikely wood or straw would survive the thousands of years of Stonehengeâ€™s existence, so finding physical evidence for her theoryâ€”other than the layout of the stones themselvesâ€”is next to impossible.
Roofed Stonehenge website
Discovery News reports the finding of burials of “high status women.”
The remains of 14 women believed to be of high status and importance have been found at Stonehenge, the iconic prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England.
The discovery, along with other finds, supports the theory that Stonehenge functioned, at least for part of its long history, as a cremation cemetery for leaders and other noteworthy individuals, according to a report published in the latest issue of British Archaeology.
During the recent excavation, more women than men were found buried at Stonehenge, a fact that could change its present image.
“In almost every depiction of Stonehenge by artists and TV re-enactors we see lots of men, a man in charge, and few or no women,” archaeologist Mike Pitts, who is the editor of British Archaeology and the author of the book “Hengeworld,” told Discovery News.
“The archaeology now shows that as far as the burials go, women were as prominent there as men. This contrasts with the earlier burial mounds, where men seem to be more prominent.”
Pitts added, “By definition — cemeteries are rare, Stonehenge exceptional — anyone buried at Stonehenge is likely to have been special in some way: high status families, possessors of special skills or knowledge, ritual or political leaders.”
The recent excavation focused on what is known as Aubrey Hole 7, one of 56 chalk pits dug just outside of the stone circle and dating to the earliest phases of Stonehenge in the late fourth and early third millennium B.C.
Christie Willis of the University College London Institute of Archaeology worked on the project and confirmed that the remains of at least 14 females and nine males — all young adults or older — were found at the site. A barrage of high tech analysis techniques, such as CT scanning, was needed to study the remains, given that the individuals had been cremated.
Radiocarbon dating and other analysis of all known burials at Stonehenge reveal that they took place in several episodes from about 3100 B.C. to at least 2140 B.C.
23 Dec 2013
Neo-pagans and miscellaneous whackjobs gathered recently to celebrate the Winter solstice at Stonehenge. The fellow above was wearing an attractive Green Man mask.
The Baltimore Sun published a slideshow.
Hat tip to Sullydish.
07 Oct 2009
Daily Mail illustration
Evidence of the former existence smaller stone circle by the Avon River at the end of an avenue leading to Stonehenge has given support to a new theory of the entire site constituting an enormous funerary complex. I had not been aware that Stonehenge was surrounded by an enormous prehistoric cemetery.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of what they believe was a second Stonehenge located a little more than a mile away from the world-famous prehistoric monument.
The new find on the west bank of the river Avon has been called “Bluestonehenge”, after the colour of the 25 Welsh stones of which it was once made up.
Excavations at the site have suggested there was once a stone circle 10 metres in diameter and surrounded by a henge â€“ a ditch with an external bank, according to the project director, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of the University of Sheffield.
The stones at the site were removed thousands of years ago but the sizes of the holes in which they stood indicate that this was a circle of bluestones, brought from the Preseli mountains of Wales, 150 miles away.
The standing stones marked the end of the avenue that leads from the river Avon to Stonehenge, a 1Â¾-mile long processional route constructed at the end of the Stone Age.
Neolithic peoples would have come down river by boat and literally stepped off into Bluestonehenge, Pollard said. They may have congregated at certain times of the year, including the winter solstice, and carried remains of the dead from Bluestonehenge down an almost two-mile funeral processional route to a cemetery at Stonehenge to bury them.
“It could be that Bluestonehenge was where the dead began their final journey to Stonehenge,” said Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield who co-directed the project with Pollard.
“Not many people know that Stonehenge was Britain’s largest burial ground at that time,” he said. “Maybe the blue stone circle is where people were cremated before their ashes were buried at Stonehenge itself.”
Daily Mail illustration
16 Oct 2006
Archaologists puzzle and debate over how the ancient Britons managed to move, and erect, the enormous stones used to construct the megalithic monument at Stonehenge.
Wally Wallington can show them how.
Simple, isn’t it?
Wallington also has a web-site, TheForgottenTechnology.com, where he sells a one hour movie via download, or on DVD.
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