Megaliths and Murder: The History of Stonehenge

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Stonehenge - lightening stormPhoto:
Stonehenge / lightening storm
Photo – blogspotarchive

“Stonehenge, from whence did thee come?” What was the motivation and the plan to construct extraordinary Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain beginning more than 5,000 years ago? To what extent was the premise that advocated for Stonehenge tested before the megalithic stone circle was built? Something compelling was afoot, else this project would have been a dream unborn.

Several individuals who may have played pivotal roles during the construction of the megalithic stone henge at Stonehenge have been identified and their violent deaths documented. Latest research has added a dramatic human element to the timeline of Stonehenge history.

Stonehenge basic planPhoto:
Stonehenge Phase / Basic Plan
Plan – Marshall Masters / Millennium Group

The most important building phase at Stonehenge is now seen to coincide with the end of active ceremonial use of the Southern Circle at Durrington Walls, which was only a short distance from Stonehenge. The Stonehenge building plan also drew inspiration from an earlier timber henge at the same location as stone was replacing wood as the henge material of choice.

Stonehenge I / c. 3015-2935 B.C –

Oldest ritual structures on the post-glacial, forested Salisbury Plain were built of wood and date to the Mesolithic. There are 3, 4 or 5 holes for wooden timber poles, approximately 10,000 years old that were found beneath a tourist car park near Stonehenge. These holes held pine posts that were aligned in an east-west direction. The only known parallels are in Scandinavia. Circa 4,000 B.C., a causewayed enclosure was built at Robin Hood’s Ball and long barrow (burial) tombs dotted the surrounding landscape. Around 3500 B.C., farmers began to clear the woods 700 meters (2300 ft) north of the site where Stonehenge would be built.

Stonehenge, ditch in foregroundPhoto:
Stonehenge – Ditch in foreground
Photo -­ Wessex Archeology Ltd

About 3100 B.C., what would become the stone henge site on the Salisbury Plain was renewed as a sacred landscape. Cretaceous Chalk sediments were used to build a circular bank and ditch enclosure about 110 m (360 ft) in diameter with a large entrance to the north and a smaller exit/entrance to the south.

Flint tools and deer and oxen bones were placed as offerings in the bottom of the ditch. Within the outer edge of the enclosed area were 56 pits about one meter deep. They are called Aubrey Holes after John Aubrey, an English antiquary who discovered these ‘holes’ in the late 1600s. Most probable is that movable markers in the Aubrey Holes were used by astronomer-priests to calculate nodal points and predict lunar and solar eclipses.

Stonehenge / Sidereal Sun - Moon CalendarPhoto:
Stonehenge / Sidereal Sun – Moon Calendar
Diagram – Robin Heath / Stonehenge – Marriage of the Sun and Moon

Several groups of burials which date to the time of the timber henge, circular bank and ditch have been found. The Aubrey Hole nearest the center of the northeast entrance, and also the one at the south entrance, contained ritual offerings of deer antlers. A chalk ball, that may have represented the sun, was found in the south-entrance Aubrey Hole. The earliest cremation burial (burnt bones, teeth) at Stonehenge was found in Aubrey Hole 32 and is dated from 3030 B.C to 2880 B.C.

A cluster of nine child cremations was found near Aubrey Hole 14 where ritual and meaning elude us. Are they offerings to a moon or sun deity, or dedications upon completion of the timber henge? Are these burials of children from the ruling clan that died a natural death and whose elite class status required a special funerary context?

The Mysterious Cursus –

Stonehenge Cursus - 1740Photo:
Stonehenge Cursus / Wm Stukeley 1740
Historic Print – megalithix

Cursus date to the early Neolithic, some are several miles long and there may be more than 150 in the British Isles. They are narrow and very long with a continuous interior bank and external ditch. The only breaks in cursus walls are causeways and entry points. Few cursus have been excavated and little internal structure has been found in any of them. Most survive only as crop marks with almost no surface features visible.

Stonehenge CursusPhoto:
Stonehenge Cursus – south bank and ditch
Photo – Psychostevouk /Wikipedia

Exactly what is a cursus is still a mystery. The possibilities include: processional walkway; ceremonial avenue; competitive trackway where young men competed, perhaps in contests that were connected to rituals and/or coming of age; secular raceway and symbolic sacred river. Additional structure might be added to a cursus on an occasional basis over a long period of time as certain ritual days required. Terminus constructions are sometimes large and often resemble free standing barrows.

Stonehenge 2 / ~3000 B.C –

Stonehenge - three building phasesPhoto:
Stonehenge – Three Building Phases
Drawing – Robert W. O’Connell / Univ. Virgina

Postholes dated to Stonehenge 2 reveal a timber structure that was built within the enclosed area. Standing timbers were also placed at the NE entrance, and a parallel arrangement of posts ran inwards from the southern entrance. The bank was deliberately reduced in height and the Cursus ditch continued to silt up. Sherds of late Neolithic, Grooved Ware pottery identify the culture prominent on the Salisbury Plain at this time.

The holes at Stonehenge were gradually recruited for funeral use and at least 25 Aubrey Holes contained later, intrusive burials. An additional 30 burials were placed in the ditch and other locations, mostly in the eastern half of the monument. The cremation burial of a young or mature adult from the middle fill of the Stonehenge Cursus ditch dates to 2930-2870 B.C. Human skull fragments from the north eastern ditch fill date to 2890-2570 B.C. Stonehenge 2 is the earliest known cremation burial ground in the British Isles.

Stonehenge / Aubrey Holes, Slaughter Stone, Y Holes, Z HolesPhoto:
Stonehenge / Aubrey Holes, Slaughter Stone, Y Holes, Z Holes
Plan – Dr. C.L.C.E. Whitcombe / Sweet Briar College

A Welsh Neolithic Hero moves to the Salisbury Plain –

Carn Menyn, Preseli Mountains, WalesPhoto:
Carn Menyn, Mynydd Preseli, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Photo – woodlands168 / flikr

The much larger bluestones were quarried in the Preseli Mountains of Pembrokeshire, Wales about 250 km (160 miles) away. Twenty different stone types are represented in this group of 4-ton-monoliths, each of which stood about 2 m (6.6 ft) high, 1-1.5 m (3.3-4.9 ft) wide and ~0.8 m (2.6 ft) thick.

Bedd Arthur, Preseli Mts - WalesPhoto:
Bedd Arthur, Preseli Mts, Wales
Photo – Megalithic Wales

The double arc of bluestones at Stonehenge is known today as the Q and R holes. The Altar Stone is a large, freestanding sandstone sarsen that probably came from a coastal area south of the Presili Mountains near Milford Haven. It now seems that all of the bluestones were dragged eastwards past the Brecon Beacons to a crossing point over the Severn, then were moved south to the Salisbury Plain.

Raft for transporting Stonehenge bluestonesPhoto:
Large raft for transporting bluestones
Plan -­ Len Saunders / Stonehenge Solved

Preseli Mts, Carn Menyn / Bedd ArthurPhoto:
Wales – Presili Mts / Carn Menyn, Bedd Arthur
Photo ­ claonaite / flikr

Why were the bluestones moved from southern Wales to the Salisbury Plain? They are large and weigh several tons each, and their transport over 250 km of land and sea was an extremely difficult undertaking.

Excalibur finds King ArthurPhoto:
Excalibur finds King Arthur
Digital Scan / Book Illustration ­- DavepapeBot / Wikimedia / From “The Boy’s King Arthur”, N.C. Wyeth 1922.

One proposal sees a condensed powerful energy embedded within the bluestones, perhaps that of a great hero of the distant past that had been transformed into a warrior and solar god. When the bluestones went to the Salisbury Plain, so did this sacred valence of an ancient Welsh warrior or solar god that was encapsulated in the stones. With this extraordinary motivation, the proposal of astronomer-priest-architects to regional kings, who were charged with organizing a large work force, would be compelling.

Stonehenge 3 I / ~2600 B.C –

Around 2600 B.C, two circular arrangements of stones were laid out to form either a crescent or double ring. A total of 80 standing stones has been estimated, but only 43 can be traced today with any accuracy. The famous Altar stone is dated to this building phase. Not long thereafter, the smaller standing stones were removed and taken down.

Stonehenge / Alignment of Altar Stone - Heel StonePhoto:
Stonehenge / Alignment of Altar Stone – Heel Stone
Graphic Art ­- Jan Wicherink / Souls of Distortion

The north east entrance at Stonehenge was widened for a better match to the direction of the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset. This building phase at Stonehenge was never finished and subsequently the bluestones were taken down. They remained on site to be used in the next important building phase. The Q and R holes were then deliberated filled in.

Stonehenge - Heel StonePhoto:
Stonehenge – Heel Stone
Photo – Akajune / Wikipedia

Two or three large portal stones were set up outside the NE entrance. This is the earliest possible time for the placement of the Heel Stone outside the northeast entrance. Only one of these NE ‘guardians’ – the fallen Slaughter Stone – remains. Four ‘Station Stones’ stood atop barrows which do not contain burials. Two ditches were later dug around the Station Stones.

Stonehenge Avenue was built 3 km (1.9 miles) to the River Avon as a parallel pair of ditches and banks. This construction indicates a major change in ceremonial protocols so that they could accommodate larger ritual processions.

Stonehenge Avenue / King  BarrowsPhoto:
Stonehenge Avenue, King Barrows (Avebury) / 1934, 1976
Photos ­- Len Saunders / Stonehenge Solved

Stonehenge 3 II / ~2400-2200 B.C –

30 huge boulders were brought to the Stonehenge site to begin the third major phase of building. These sarsens and trilithons were quarried near Marlborough, about 40 km north of the Stonehenge site. Each giant standing stone was about 4.1 m (13 ft) high, 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) wide and 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) thick. The heaviest stones had weights approximating 25 tons or more.

These 30 sarsens were precisely fitted with mortise and tenon joints for their lintels which were fitted to one another using tongue and groove joints. The sarsens were then erected as an incomplete circle of standing stones, 33 m (110 ft) in diameter. Exactly 74 stones would be needed to complete this stone circle and it appears that the circle was never finished. The lintel stones are 3.2m (10 ft) long, 1 m (3 ft 3 in) wide, 0.8 m (2 ft 7 in) thick and their tops are 4.9 m (16 ft) above the ground.

Stonehenge SW view / 1867Photo:
Stonehenge SW view / Ordnance Survey 1867
Archival Photo -­ Blumenberg Associates LLC

C-14 dates obtained from antler picks in the stone holes place the erection of the sarsens (Phase 3 II) after the first phase of bluestone alignment (Phase 3 I) at around 2400-2200 B.C. Re-appraisal of these sarsen holes and adjacent pits determined that this often-quoted date range comes from a large pit dug after the giant trilithon had been set in place. Recent dating determinations clarify that this famous sarsen construction is best dated by two earlier dates, 2640-2480 B.C. At this time, Durrington Walls and the Southern Circle were likely still in active use.

Stonehenge solstic alignmentsPhoto:
Stonehenge Solstice alignments / Sun Rise/Set, Moon Rise/Set
Schematic – Astronomy 121 / University Virginia

It is often suggested that Stonehenge replaced a circle of upright timbers constructed with lintels. These wooden lintels were held together with mortise and tenon joints, then joined to each other with tongue and groove joints. This classic woodworking joinery was transferred to the new stone henge, a rather remarkable feat. Perhaps new rituals and mythic metaphor encouraged the adoption of the Durrington Walls, Southern Circle plan, but then required stone as the construction material. Recent speculation has suggested that large funeral processions moved between Darrington Walls and Stonehenge (see below).

Stonehenge sarsens / laser photographPhoto:
Stonehenge Sarsens 2, 3, 4, 5, 51, 52, 62 / laser photograph
Laser Photograph – Wessex Archaeology / Archaeoptics Ltd

There is another feature of Stonehenge with even grander scale. Within the sarsen-trilithon circle stood five giant trilithons arranged in a horseshoe whose open end faced northeast and was 13.7 m (45 ft) across. A few of the ten uprights and five lintels had weights approaching 50 tons each and were linked together with the complex joinery described above. Their arrangement is symmetrical and sorted by height in descending order. Coincident with the trilithon ‘horshoe’, the ‘Altar’ Stone was placed in the interior of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge - construction ramp for sarsens, lintelsPhoto:
Stonehenge / construction ramp & builder’s scaffold
Diagram – Mystic Places / World-Mysteries.com

Stonehenge 3 III –

Stonehenge 3 III was a brief phase during which the bluestones were re-erected. They were placed within the outer sarsen circle and possibly trimmed anew; a few wood-working style cuts can be noticed.

Stonehenge - Trilithons E, CPhoto:
Stonehenge – Trilithons E & C / Ordnance Survey 1867
Archival Photo ­- Blumenberg Associates LLC

The northeast and south entrances to the stone henge were now guarded by two graves, an adult and child burial. An embayment and north side pit were cut into the filled-in, U-shaped cursus ditch. An important shift in the sacred axis was implemented, and we can infer a significant change in myth and ritual. The sacred axis was shifted to North-South. North and south side ditches were redug as small pits.

Stonehenge aerial  photo / 1920sPhoto:
Stonehenge aerial photo / RAF 1920s
Archival Photo -­ Len Saunders / Stonehenge Solved

The cremation burial of a 25 year-old woman was situated in a new ditch on the northern side. A date of 2570-2340 B.C. places her death within the period when the sarsens were erected as judged by their latest C-14 dates. Soon after 2400 B.C., the Stonehenge Archer was buried in the outer ditch. He may have had a dramatic association with the Avebury Archer and/or the Boscombe Bowmen as discussed below.

Durrington Walls –

Durrington Walls / AvenuePhoto:
Durrington Walls / Avenue
Photo ­- University Sheffield – Archeology

Only 3.2 km (2.0 miles) from Stonehenge, Durrington Walls is a complicated, important henge and village site on the Salisbury Plain. It contains several structures including a large timber circle (wood henge) with a 40m-diameter known as the Southern Circle. The oldest evidence for human activity at the Durrington Walls site is a handful of pottery fragments that date to the beginning of the Neolithic. The Avenue at Durrington Walls was built before the three wood henges at the site were constructed and it is aligned to the Summer Solstice Sun Set. There is also evidence for huge fires on the banks of the River Avon at this time.

Durrington Walls / Southern CirclePhoto:
Durrington Walls / Southern Circle – replica
Photo ­- University Sheffield – Archeology

The Southern Circle is a complicated timber pole construction that integrates several concentric circles. Human movement was ‘controlled’ by the precise placement of footpaths within the henge. There were points along these walking paths where a long-distance view was available and a vista of the beautiful surrounding landscape would be compelling. The timber circle was oriented towards the rising sun at mid-winter solstice.

Individual poles may have been ancestor idols, timbers that were inhabited by the sacred essence of the ancestors before whom offerings were made. Later individual offerings placed in the timber pole recut holes were intended to acknowledge the former greatness of the Southern Circle.

Durrington Walls - Stonehenge comparisonPhoto:
Durrington Walls – Stonehenge comparison
Photo ­– University Sheffield – Archeology Report 2005

Did the Southern Circle at Durrington Walls provide the basic plan for the megalithic stone circle at Stonehenge? Several researchers have noted a close design similarity between the two circles in stone and post alignment. This earlier wood henge at Durrington Walls had been used for a long time before Stonehenge was built and was therefore validated by the gods.

Durrington Walls - house in Neolithic villagePhoto:
Durrington Walls / House in Neolithic Village
Photo ­– University Sheffield – Archeology Report 2006

Adjacent to Southern Circle is the largest known Bronze Age village in northwest Europe. At least 300 houses provided homes for workers who labored at Stonehenge, Durrington Walls and Avebury. Small numbers of arrivals from the Beaker Culture of continental Europe may have formed an elite class that managed the large work crews and lived in prestige housing. Two prominent, large palisaded houses situated within ditched, palisaded enclosures have been found in this village.

The Boscombe Bowmen –

Boscombe Bowmen / mass gravePhoto:
Boscombe Bowmen / mass grave
Photo ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

Who moved the huge Welsh bluestones to the Salisbury Plain? Incredibly, burials have been found of men who may have worked on the grandest building phases of Stonehenge.

Boscombe Bowmen / grave goodsPhoto:
Boscombe Bowmen / arrowheads, bone toggle
Photo ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

In May 2003, a water pipe dig in Boscombe Down accidentally uncovered a Bronze Age burial that is dated around 2300 B.C. There were seven individuals in this mass grave: three adult men, a teenage boy and three children. Grave goods that included Beaker pottery were provisions for an afterlife journey through the Underworld. Flint arrowheads found in quantity in the grave provided the name of the group – The Boscombe Bowmen. Life was short and extreme in Bronze Age Europe – the oldest male was 40 years old when he died and the other men died before they were 30 years old.

Isotopic analysis of strontium and oxygen determined that the men lived in southern Wales until the age of 6 and then moved to another locality until the age of 13. Did the Boscombe Bowmen help move the Welsh bluestones to the Salisbury Plain? Were the Boscombe Bowmen a family, a ‘Band of Brothers’ who came to the Salisbury Plain with their children to work at Stonehenge? Did they live in one of the large, palisaded houses in the village at Durrington Walls? Were they upper class Beaker people who had authority at Stonehenge and directed some of the construction work?

A Project Manager Comes to Stonehenge –

Amesbury Archer / burialPhoto:
Amesbury Archer / burial
Photo ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

One year before the discovery of the Boscombe Bowmen, a routine archeological survey in advance of a housing project at Amesbury found Beaker pottery and a gold hair tress on site. These finds quickly led to the burial of an adult male from the early Bronze Age, around 2300 B.C. The locality in Amesbury (Wiltshire) is 3 miles southeast of Stonehenge.

Amesbury Archer / copper knivesPhoto:
Amesbury Archer / copper knives
Photo ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

The grave goods were the richest ever found in a British Bronze Age burial. Among the 100 items catalogued were five Beaker pots, a slate wrist guard to protect the arm from the recoil of an archer’s longbow, two small gold hair tresses, a cushion stone used for metal working, 16 barbed and tanged flint arrowheads and three copper knives. Four boar tusks accompanied the complete male skeleton. The gold was dated to 2470 B.C. and is the oldest gold found in Britain. The ability to work gold would have been a rare skill that quickly conferred high status upon the Amesbury Archer. Many of the grave objects were goods for use in the afterlife, and it is possible the grave was originally covered by a barrow (burial mound).

Beaker potteryPhoto:
Beaker Culture / pottery
Photo ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

The Amesbury Archer was between 35 and 45 when he died. He suffered a serious injury that tore out his left knee cap and would have walked with a straight left leg gait. He also suffered from a painful bone infection and sadly lived out his last years in severe, permanent pain. Analysis of oxygen isotopes in tooth enamel revealed that the Amesbury Archer lived in central Europe when a child. Why had he come to southern Britain?

Nearby was a second burial of a younger man who was no more than 25 at the time of death. Two gold hair tresses were found in the mud in his jaw. Bone analysis supports a family relationship with the older Amesbury Archer and a life lived entirely in Britain. Was this burial the Amesbury Archer’s son who was born and died in Britain?

Amesbury Archer, companionPhoto:
Amesbury Archer / companion
Photo ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

Rich Beaker culture grave goods portray the Amesbury Archer as a member of an elite class. His burial near Stonehenge appears to be deliberate. Speculation suggests that the Amesbury Archer was a project manager at a time when two important constructions were ongoing at Stonehenge. He might have helped organize the erection of the 4-ton Welsh bluestones into a circle and/or the arrangement of 20-ton Sarsen stones that had been brought to Stonehenge from Marlborough Downs.

Arrival of the Beaker Culture into Britain at the time of Stonehenge 3 is documented at many localities and should not be thought of as a military invasion. It seems that small numbers of a Beaker Culture aristocracy came to Britain from continental Europe to facilitate trade networks and strongly position themselves within regional politics.

The Stonehenge Archer –

Wessex (Beaker) ArcherPhoto:
Wessex (Beaker) Archer
Artist ­- Wessex Archeology Ltd

A grave discovered in 1978 bears further witness to the turbulent and dangerous times at Stonehenge. A tall and strong man no more than 30 years old had met a violent death around 2300 B.C. The positioning of arrows in the grave suggests that he was shot from behind by as many as six men. A stone wrist guard in the grave implies this fellow was an archer, but then the bow was ubiquitous in Wessex Culture. Was this a ritual killing in which the victim quietly complied, perhaps after being drugged? After all, it is nearly impossible for six men to sneak up behind their intended victim without being heard. Stone wrist guards were prestige items and one might have been placed in the grave after the killing as a mark of respect.

As this Stonehenge Archer died at approximately the same time as the Amesbury Archer and the oldest of the Boscombe Bowmen, at least one writer has tried to connect the three. The Amesbury Archer and oldest Boscombe Bowman each had crippling injuries to their upper left leg, possibly inflicted by a strong, right-handed man wielding a stone mace. The Stonehenge Archer fits that profile but aside from the coincidence of dates with significance variance, there is no hard evidence to back up this story. Still… We shall always wonder… Did the surviving family of the Amesbury Archer and/or Boscombe Bowmen hunt down the Stonehenge Archer and kill him in revenge?

Bluehenge –

Bluehenge at StonehengePhoto:
Bluehenge at Stonehenge / Arrival of the Dead – River Avon
Artist ­– University of Manchester

An important discovery at Stonehenge was announced in early October 2009. One mile from the legendary sarsens and trilithons, and coincident in time with their assembly, a smaller stone henge was built from Welsh bluestones. Twenty-seven 4-ton sarsens of Preseli Spotted Dolerite were erected in a circle 60 meters in diameter. Preseli Spotted Dolerite is the dominant igneous rock at Stonehenge and it is harder than granite.

Bluehenge was identified from dolerite chips that still remain in the rock holes of bluehenge. These bluestones could have been highly polished to bring out flecks of blue that would resemble stars in the night sky. Bluehenge was later taken down to make its stones available for the largest of the sarsen circles.

Stonehenge - Durrington Walls / Journey from Life to DeathPhoto:
Stonehenge – Durrington Walls map / Journey from Life to Death
Map ­- tim / remote central archives

There is a prodigious quantity of animal bones in the Neolithic village excavation at Durrington Walls that were deposited during mid-winter feasting. Those feasts may have honored the dead whose remains – perhaps cremation ashes – were taken in solemn procession from the village along the Durrington Walls Avenue to the River Avon.

Funeral rituals at three henges - StonehengePhoto:
Bluehenge / Funeral rituals at Three Henges / Stonehenge site
Graphic Art ­- Souls of Distortion

The dead could have been rafted down the River Avon, then brought ashore at Bluehenge. A ceremony at Bluehenge would be followed by a 1.8 mile procession along the sacred Avenue to the NE entrance of Stonehenge which is aligned with the summer solstice. The sanctified ashes of the dead would be the focus of a concluding ceremony at Stonehenge. Free of the physical body, the immortal human spirit can now join the ancestors and the deities in their eternal journey through the zodiac.

Stonehenge 3 IV / 2280BC – 1930BC –

Bluestones were again re-arranged in this building phase. A second group of blue stones was brought in from the Preseli Mountains in Wales and set up between the Sarsen Circle and Trilithons. They were carefully spaced and there is no evidence that this bluestone arrangement was linked with lintels. An oval setting of bluestones was built within the horseshoe arc of the Sarsen Trilithons. The Altar stone may have been re-positioned within this central oval, and reerected vertically. Oddly, the overall workmanship of this building phase appears to have been rushed and not up to the high standard of earlier Stonehenge building.

Stonehenge plan, 1867Photo:
Stonehenge – plan / Ordnance Survey 1867
Archival Print ­ Blumenberg Associates LLC

Stonehenge 3 V and VI /-

The northeastern section of the Phase 3 IV bluestone circle was taken down creating a horseshoe-shaped arrangement that mirrored the shape of the central sarsen trilithons. This is the architectural alignment of the bluestones that we see today. During Stonehenge 3 VI / ~1900 B.C., the Y and Z holes were dug in concentric circles outside the Sarsen Circle but they never held stones.

Stonehenge Declines –

Beaker farmhouse / cobb constructionPhoto:
Beaker Farmhouse – interior / cobb construction, Netherlands
Photo – hans s / Flikr

The southern section of the cursus ditch was dug out to form a V-shaped ditch that was filled with calcified loessic soil, circa 2000-1500 B.C. The loessic soil may have derived from wind erosion off surrounding land where the grass cover was broken up for the first time. If turf was stripped out for building barrows and/or to prepare the field for plowing, then much of the mythic potency of this area of the Salisbury Plain had evaporated. The ‘world’ had dramatically changed from the time when the great trilithons, Altar and Heel Stones revealed their secrets to the astronomer-priests and provided a sacred conduit to the cosmos.

Stonehenge plan - 2004Photo:
Stonehenge Plan – Adamsan / Kdhenrik / Wikipedia

A ragged ring of offering pits was placed around the perimeter of Stonehenge about 1500 B.C. The sacred avenue upon which ritual processions walked was extended to the River Avon which is the last construction of any significance at Stonehenge.

Merlin builds StonehengePhoto:
Merlin Directs the Building of Stonehenge / Roman de Brut, c.1150-55
Written in Norman by the poet Wace, Roman de Brut is a ‘history’ of the new Anglo-Norman, British territories. It includes a life of King Arthur and goes back to the mythical Brutus of Troy.
Digital Image / illuminated manuscript ­– Dsmdgold / Wikipedia

Stonehenge fell into disuse many centuries before the first Celtic tribes and their druids arrived on the Salisbury Plain, and its religion was unlikely to be the great poetry, water deities and tree lore of the Celts. However, legends about the ancient Welsh hero who was brought to the Salisbury Plain may have survived and were still told when the druids arrived. The druids could have appropriated their power, perhaps as early as the La Tene culture around 500 B.C. We can only guess what they thought when first standing in the great stone circle of Stonehenge. And what would a centurion in the Roman army that locked down Britannia for the Empire think when visiting Stonehenge on a lazy summer day when there was no Celtic tribal rebellion in sight?

King Arthur enthronedPhoto:
King Arthur Enthroned / Mathew Paris (England), ca.1200-1259
Painting manuscript – Acoma / Wikimedia

Much later, from the 8th century A.D. onward, Welsh poets at the behest of their Cymri kings were creating the legend of King Arthur as they embellished his true history of a Brythonic warrior fighting valiantly against invading Saxons. When these bards draped King Arthur’s shoulders with the mantle of the timeless sacred power in Stonehenge, they were transforming this regional king into an immortal mythic hero. The poets were adding King Arthur to the lineage of that unknown great warrior who lived, fought and died in the Welsh mountains during the early Neolithic age. Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th century history of Britain put Merlin in charge of transporting the great Welsh bluestones and then acting as overseer for the Stonehenge construction. What a fine acknowledgement that the highest of mythic forces were still in play at Stonehenge.

Stonehenge - druid festival fantasy / Italy c.1820Photo:
Stonehenge – druid festival fantasy / Italy c.1820
Historic Print – Dr. C.L.C.E. Whitcombe / Sweet Briar College

Stonehing, 1575Photo:
Stonehing – 1575
Historic Print – Dr. C.L.C.E. Whitcombe / Sweet Briar College

Although it has no obvious ‘clock works’, no obvious mechanism, Stonehenge is a working solar and lunar calendar that was built to gather important sacred data that changes throughout the year. A forthcoming EG article will look at the ‘works’ of Stonehenge that gathered information from the celestial realm. Properly understood, that data empowered the astronomer-priest-architects to predict the most important actions taken by the gods and goddesses during their annual journey through the zodiac. A truly reciprocal relationship is then created between the only two classes of sentient beings in the universe.

A longer and more detailed, historical biography of Stonehenge may be found here.

Sources –

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

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