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

 

      Stonehenge: (Henge-Circle).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 any of the acknowledged construction phases.

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 recognised as being 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 at one time as a vast funerary-complex.

 

   Physical Description of Stonehenge:

 

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 'The Sanctuary' 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)

 

The other end of the Avenue - 'Bluestonehenge' ...

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.

The Stonehenge Avenue.

(More about 'Bluestonehenge')

 

stonehenge heel-stone

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 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 Slaughter Stone - This stone is about 21-ft long, un-worked. Although it was originally upright, it is now fallen and has now sunk so deep that only its upper face shows. It is believed that it is one of a pair of 'portal' stones that would have marked the entrance to the circle from the earliest phase of building.

The Stonehenge Slaughter Stone.

The high content of Iron Oxide in the stone results in puddles of red water which led to the stone being called the 'slaughter stone' although there is no actual evidence of sacrifice.

 

The Ditch and Bank or The 'Henge' - (Stonehenge I): Moving inwards from the Heel Stone is a large 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 Station Stones - Also a part of  the first design, 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 astronomically significant latitudes.

(More about Quadrangular Structures).

 

Stonehenge Fact:

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)

 

In Addition:

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 currently believed to have originally held the stones for the newly discovered 'bluestonehenge'.

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 or 235 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 hypothetical 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.

In the late 19th century Wiliam Petrie Flinders suggested that the stone circle was never completed and left open to the south west. He cited as evidence 'the small, half size sarsen, Stone 11, and Stones 21, 23 being defective in size compared to the other sarsens'. The evidence from the recent laser survey of Stonehenge supports this early conclusion, suggesting that the monument was actually constructed as a large arc in a similar fashion to the arrangement of the bluestones in the Q&R Holes. All that was needed at the south west sector was Stone 16 to mark the axis. Furthermore, 'groundscans and probing have failed to reveal sockets for the missing south-west sector sarsens, providing no evidence for continuation of the sarsen circle from stone 14 to 20 in the north-west, with the exception of the monolith (16) marking the axis'. (23)

 

Stonehenge Fact:

Stonehenge is now recognised as having the largest single collection of prehistoric carvings in southern Britain.

'The laser-scan survey carried out in March last year for English Heritage by the Greenhatch Group, revealed 72 previously unknown axe and dagger carvings etched into the faces of five of the giant sarsen megaliths, trebling the number of carvings known at Stonehenge. Prior to this laser survey, 44 prehistoric carvings had been identified at Stonehenge on Stones 3, 4, 5, and 53 commencing with Richard Atkinson's discovery of a number of Bronze Age carvings in 1953 (23).

 

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 Stonehenge sarsen stones

Evidence of 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.

(The Area of 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)

This debate has now been put to rest by the official discovery in 2011 of the source of the first stones used at Stonehenge. The exact location has now been determined to be a 70m outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin in northern Pembrokeshire.   (Quick-link)
 

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 of spotted 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)

 

The Altar Stone - Lying in the geometric centre of the monument is a worked recumbent megalith. It was most recently excavated in the 1950s, but no written records of the excavation survive. The Alter Stone measures 16 feet long, 1 foot 9 inches deep and 3 feet 4 inches wide. Hawkins (3) makes note that while all the other stones were either bluestone or sarsen, the so called altar-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'. The stone when standing would have reflected the sunlight enhancing the effect of the summer solstice sunrise.

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 'Altar stone'.

(More about Specific Stone Selection)

 

 

 

   Chronology of Stonehenge:

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

Pre-Stonehenge: Archaeologists have found four, or possibly five, large Mesolithic postholes  (one may have been a natural tree throw), which date to around 8,000 BC, beneath the nearby modern tourist car-park. These held pine posts around 0.75 metres (2 ft 6 in) in diameter which were erected and eventually rotted in situ. Three of the posts (and possibly four) were in an east-west alignment which may have had ritual significance; no parallels are known from Britain at the time but similar sites have been found in Scandinavia. Salisbury was then still wooded but 4,000 years later, during the earlier Neolithic, people built a causewayed enclosure at Robin Hood's Ball and long-barrow tombs in the surrounding landscape. In approximately 3500 BC, a Stonehenge Cursus was built 700 metres (2,300 ft) north of the site as the first farmers began to clear the trees and develop the area.

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). 

(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)

The Discovery of a similar Henge at Goseck in Germany (c. 5,000 BC), and both astronomically orientated and placed on the same latitude supports the idea that the placement of the posts was NOT accidental.

 

Article: BBC News - April, 2013

'Stonehenge Occupied 5,000 years earlier than thought'

'An excavation funded with redundancy money shows Stonehenge was a settlement 3,000 years before it was built. The archaeological dig, a mile from the stones, has revealed that people have occupied the area since 7,500BC. The findings, uncovered by volunteers on a shoestring budget, are 5,000 years earlier than previously thought. Dr Josh Pollard, from Southampton University, said the team had "found the community who put the first monument up at Stonehenge". Over the past seven years, the site has yielded the earliest semi-permanent settlement in the Stonehenge area from 7,500 to 4,700BC. And carbon dating of material found at the site show people were there during every millennium in between'.

(Link to Full Article)

 

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 (c. 3,500 BC (8)), (c.3,630 and 3,375 BC (21)) and can indications from this cursus and others suggest that they can be regarded as precursors in 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. The same evolution in design (from elongated cursus to circular henges) can also be seen at Thornborough 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  Connection with Stonehenge?

For a while it was debated as to whether or not there may have been a connection between the builders of Stonehenge and the Mycenaean's.  Current dating suggests that while the Mycenaean civilisation existed from around 1,600 BC - 1,100 BC, the Stonehenge sarsen's were erected around 600 years earlier and the debate has now been been laid to rest.

The curved Mycenaean lintels have been compared to the Stonehenge lintels, which have no precedent in British prehistoric architecture.

The Mycenaean tombs or Tholos all had curved lintels over the entrances.

 In 1953, a carving of what appears to be a Mycenaean dagger  (below, left), was found carved onto a stone at Stonehenge.

stonehenge dagger

This discovery raised the suggestion that the stones were raised by Mycenaean architects as the nearest artefacts with any similarity to this dagger are those found in Mycenae.

However, the date for the erection of the bluestones at Stonehenge has since been revised, as pointed out in the book Hengeworld by Mike Pitts, (0-09-927875-8), on page 341 he states that the "large sarsen structures" of Stonehenge have been dated with 95% confidence to between 2461 & 2205 bce., at the inside more than 600 years earlier .. It also seems to place these carvings well after the bluestone circle & oval, said to date from between 2267 & 1983 bce. (page 342).

At best then, the dagger might represent a Mycenaean visit to Stonehenge, but no more.

 (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.

Diodorus 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)

 

 

   The 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 Latitude of Stonehenge: Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, 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.

The 'Avenue' leading from Stonehenge is orientated at the same angle as the latitude upon which Stonehenge sits.

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 two 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 Stonehenge: In addition to having been built on a particularly significant latitude, the layout of the site also incorporates several other intrinsic astronomical features. 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'.

With regard to the astronomical significance of the “Station stones,” the lines joining 91 (east-south-east) to 92 (south-south-east) and 93 (west-north-west) to 94 (north-north-west) are parallel to the axis of the monument.  They point to mid-summer sunrise in one direction, to the North-East, and to mid-winter sunset in the opposite direction, to the South-West.  In addition, the diagonal line joining 93 to 91 points to the position where the sun rose, in ancient times, on November 8th and February 4th. Looking in the opposite direction, 91 to 93, the line points to sunset on May 6th and August 8th.  These four dates were “the four great festivals of the Druids,” and represented important turning points in the seasons.

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.

 

In 1965, with the use of computers, Steven Hawkins proposed with regards to the the specific alignments to the Sun and the Moon, that it was ".....less than one chance in ten thousand that the stones had been aligned by accident" (Hawkins 1965, p-136).

 

New Pits Discovered in the Cursus.

Article: BBC News: Nov 2011.

Two previously undiscovered pits have been found in the Stonehenge Cursus which point to it once being used as a place of sun worship long before the stones were erected. The pits are positioned in such a way that when viewed from the 'Heel-Stone' at Stonehenge, they would have marked the rising and setting positions of the sun on the summers solstice. (20)

(Link to Full BBC Article)

(Link to Birmingham University Article)

(More about Archaeoastronomy)

 

 

   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 geodetically 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'

  • A line extended from Stonehenge to Arbor-low extends exactly 2° north. (Avebury lies exactly 1/4 of a degree north of Stonehenge along the same line).

The three Henge-circles of Stonehenge, Arbor Low and Bryn Celli Ddu form together to make a 3:4:5 Triangle.

Perhaps also of interest is the recently excavated Goseck Henge (c. 5,000 BC) in Germany, which is of similar design and lies on the same latitude as Stonehenge.

 

 

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 'Decagon' discovered by John Michell.
 

The Lundy Triangle:

Robin Heath and John Mitchell suggested that Stonehenge, Lundy Island and Preseli  form together to make a 5:12:13 Triangle, the second in the Pythagorean set. The dimensions are 2,500 times the size of the 'Station Stone' rectangle.

It is noticeable that the Rollrights stone-circle is located at  (51° 58′ 20″ N, 1° 34′ 19″ W), which is almost exactly on the top right-hand corner of the rectangle.

(More about English Geodesy).

Article: Stonehenge Codes: The Geometric and Astronomic Significance of Stonehenge. (Prof. D.P. Gregg)

 

Stonehenge and The Flower of Life.

Click here for larger image.

The geometry of the 'Flower of Life' was recognised in the dimensions of Stonehenge.

Photo Credits: Andrew Monkman. (The World Grid: The invisible Made Visible)

 

 

   What's New at Stonehenge:

 

Article: BBC News - April, 2013

'Stonehenge Occupied 5,000 years earlier than thought'

'An excavation funded with redundancy money shows Stonehenge was a settlement 3,000 years before it was built. The archaeological dig, a mile from the stones, has revealed that people have occupied the area since 7,500BC. The findings, uncovered by volunteers on a shoestring budget, are 5,000 years earlier than previously thought. Dr Josh Pollard, from Southampton University, said the team had "found the community who put the first monument up at Stonehenge". Over the past seven years, the site has yielded the earliest semi-permanent settlement in the Stonehenge area from 7,500 to 4,700BC. And carbon dating of material found at the site show people were there during every millennium in between'.

(Link to Full Article)

 

 Article: Independent.co.uk: October 2012.

Results of Greenhatch Laser Scan of Stonehenge:

The results of the Grenhatch Laser survey at Stonehenge in 2011, have revealed that Stonehenge represents the largest concentration of Prehistoric rock art in Southern England. It has also shown that different methods of dressing the stone were applied to different stones and perhaps more importantly, that the trilithon stone-circle was never completed, and was likely originally intended as a horseshoe shape monument.

(Link to Results of Survey)

 

Article: Heritage Daily (Feb, 2012)

'Stonehenge Design Based on Auditory Illusion'.  

'Steven Waller, an independent researcher in California, said the layout of the stones corresponded to the regular spacing of loud and quiet sounds created by acoustic interference when two instruments played at the same note continuously.

In Neolithic times, the nature of sound waves - and their ability to reinforce and cancel each other  out - would have been mysterious enough to vergew on the magical, Waller said. Quiet patches created by acoustic interference could have created the "auditory illusion" that invisible objects stood between a listener and the instruments being played, he added'

  (Link to Full Article)

 

 

Scientists Discover Source of Rock Used in Stonehenge's First Circle:

Article: Independent.co.uk: Dec 2011.

'Scientists have succeeded in locating the exact source of some of the rock believed to have been used 5000 years ago to create Stonehenge's first stone circle. By comparing fragments of stone found at and around Stonehenge with rocks in south-west Wales, they have been able to identify the original rock outcrop that some of the Stonehenge material came from. The work - carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins has pinpointed the source as a 70 metre long rock outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It's the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge'.

(Link to Full Article)

 

 

New Pits Discovered in the Cursus.

Article: BBC News: (Nov 2011).

Two previously undiscovered pits have been found in the Stonehenge Cursus which point to it once being used as a place of sun worship long before the stones were erected. The pits are positioned in such a way that when viewed from the 'Heel-Stone' at Stonehenge, they would have marked the rising and setting positions of the sun on the summers solstice. (20)

It is thought the pits, positioned within the Neolithic Cursus pathway, could have formed a procession route for ancient rituals celebrating the sun moving across the sky at the midsummer solstice. Also discovered was a gap in the northern side of the Cursus, which may have been an entrance and exit point for processions taking place within the pathway. These discoveries hint that the site was already being used as an ancient centre of ritual prior to the stones being erected more than 5,000 years ago, the team said.

(Link to Full BBC Article)

(Link to Birmingham University Article)

 

 

New Henge Discovered Near Stonehenge:

Article: BBC News: July 2010.

Archaeologists have discovered a second Henge at Stonehenge, described as the most exciting find there in 50 years.

The circular ditch surrounding a smaller circle of deep pits about a metre (3ft) wide has been unearthed at the world-famous site in Wiltshire. Archaeologists conducting a multi-million pound study believe timber posts were in the pits. It is orientated towards the great Stonehenge monument.

Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University of Birmingham, said the discovery was "exceptional".

The new "henge" - which means a circular monument dating to Neolithic and Bronze Ages - is situated about 900m (2,950ft) from the giant stones on Salisbury Plain.

"It's a timber equivalent to Stonehenge” said Professor Vince Gaffney University of Birmingham

Images show it has two entrances on the north-east and south-west sides and inside the circle is a burial mound on top which appeared much later, Professor Gaffney said.

'You seem to have a large-ditched feature, but it seems to be made of individual scoops rather than just a straight trench," he said. 'When we looked a bit more closely, we then realised there was a ring of pits about a metre wide going all the way around the edge. When you see that as an archaeologist, you just looked at it and thought, 'that's a henge monument' - it's a timber equivalent to Stonehenge. From the general shape, we would guess it dates backs to about the time when Stonehenge was emerging at its most complex. This is probably the first major ceremonial monument that has been found in the past 50 years or so'.

 Archaeologists say the find is "exceptional"

"This is really quite interesting and exceptional, it starts to give us a different perspective of the landscape."

(Link to full article)

 

Bluestonehenge: The Second Stone Circle.

Article: 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 script?

 

While this theory may well have substance, it fails to take into account 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)

 

Bluestones in the Aubrey Holes:

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)

 

The Amesbury Archer:

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.

Old Postcard showing Silhouette of Face on the 'Hele' or 'Friars' stone.

stonehenge face

One of  the newer 'faces' at Stonehenge.

(More about Simulacrum)

 

(Stone Circles)

(Henges)

(Archaeoastronomy)

(Megalithic Complexes)

(The Salisbury Complex)

(Prehistoric English Geodesy)

(Other Prehistoric English sites)

References:

1). Peter Lemesurier. The great pyramid, your personal guide. Element books. 1987.
2). A. Burl. Rings of Stone. 1979. Book Club Assoc.
3). Prof. G. Hawkins. Stonehenge Decoded. 1965, Doubleday.
4). Bonnie Gaunt. Stonehenge and the great pyramid. 1993. (ISBN 0-9602688-309).
5). Alfred Watkins. The old straight track.
6). Sir Norman Lockyear. Stonehenge and other British stone monuments astronomically considered
7). A. Service & J. Bradbery. Megaliths and their Mysteries. 1979. Macmillan.
8). http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=3719
9). Rene Noorbergen. Secrets of the Lost Races. New English Library. 1977.
10). Glyn Daniel. The Megalithic Builders of Western Europe. 1958. Hutchinson.
11) A. Burl.  The Stone circles of the British Isles. Yale.
12) A. Burl. Prehistoric Henges. 1997. Shire publications
13). Flinders Petrie - Stonehenge: Plans, Descriptions & Theories.
14). Nigel Pennick. The Ancient science of Geomancy. Thames and Hudson. 1979.
15). http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News/Latest/Pages/stonehengeaubreyhole.aspx
16). C. Knight & R. Lomas. Uriel's Machine. Century. 1999.
17). R. Heath, Sun, Moon & Stonehenge,
18). Cope. J. The Modern Antiquarian. 1998. Thorsons publ.
19). http://thehobgoblin.blogspot.com/2009/11/new-stonehenge-bluestone-mystery.html
20). http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2011/11/25Nov-Discoveries-provide-evidence-of-a-celestial-procession-at-Stonehenge.aspx
21). Sheffield University: "Stonehenge Riverside Project- 2007 Excavations"
22). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge
23). http://thehobgoblin.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/stonehenge-prehistoric-art-gallery.html
 
 
Further Research:
 
Additional Information about Stonehenge: SacredSites.com
Laser Survey of Stonehenge (2012): http://www.greenhatch-group.co.uk/stonehenge

 

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