“And there is also on the island (Hyperborea) both a magnificent sacred precinct of Apollo and a notable temple decorated with many offerings…spherical in shape [and] a city is there which is sacred to this god…and the kings of this city and the supervisors of the sacred precinct are called Boreades, since they are descendants of Boreas…”
Elsewhere on this site, I’ve written in detail about the passage above, which is part of an account of a journey made to Britain by the ancient Greek mariner Pytheas of Massilia; to my mind, there is no doubt that when he wrote about a notable temple and city sacred to Apollo, he was referring to Stonehenge and to the nearby Vespasian’s Camp.
Writing about events in the middle of the fourth century BC, Pytheas specifies that there were kings of the city and supervisors of the sacred precinct. The Attic Greek word for supervisors conveys the sense that these people were in charge of the precinct and temple, so as the structure probably required little in the way of maintenance, it strongly suggests that they also guarded the place in some way, either symbolically or otherwise.
Is there any evidence that guardians or sentinels watched over Stonehenge before Pytheas arrived in 350 BC and that he was writing of something that was a long-established tradition? Everything I’ve seen suggests to me that this was the case, while I believe that the mortal remains of one of these sentinels can be seen at Salisbury Museum.
Before we proceed, it’s reasonable to ask if there is any other instance of a temple in remote times possessing what we would call a sentinel. The answer is yes; by far and away the most famous example that I know of was the Temple of Diana at Nemi, in Italy, which was described in detail by classical writers such as Suetonius, Ovid, Strabo and others. The incumbent priest of this temple precinct was known as Rex Nemorensis, or the King of the Grove, a man who was constantly forced to defend his position and his life against any challenger who dared to intrude into his realm.
The would-be successor or “The Man who would be King” would offer a formal challenge by plucking a golden bough from one of the sacred trees in the temple precinct, then he would engage in a fight to the death with the resident priest. To win the priesthood in this way was a poisoned chalice, however, because the victor spent the remainder of what was presumably a short life anxiously patrolling his domain, ever fearful of the approach of another murderous usurper.
The grim scenario was admirably described by the poet Macaulay, who wrote:
The still glassy lake that sleeps
Beneath Aricia’s trees -
Those trees in whose dim shadow
The ghastly priest doth reign,
The priest who slew the slayer
And shall himself be slain.
In 1978, an excavation by Professor Atkinson and J.G Evans, an environmental specialist, unexpectedly revealed a human skeleton buried in the ditch surrounding Stonehenge. The man whose grave it was had been killed by at least four arrows, while the manner of his death has been described as either an accident, a robbery, a human sacrifice or as some other vague form of “ritual killing”. There’s also the suggestion that he was simply a victim of what were apparently extremely violent times, but I think there’s more to the matter than just that. So, what exactly do we know about this burial?
The man whose grave was discovered at Stonehenge in 1978 possessed a powerful, muscular build. He was around five feet ten inches tall and he was between 25 and 30 years old when he met his death around 2,300 BC, a time when Stonehenge was being completed or had entered active use as a stone monument. Details of the lower four thoracic vertebrae show that the man had been working hard over an appreciable period of time and that this work entailed lifting. There are signs of trauma on the fifth lumbar vertebra that may have caused him some pain, but otherwise, he was healthy, heavily muscled and in the prime of life.
As a result of an infection or an accident, he had lost the upper incisor tooth on the right side of his face long enough before his death for the wound to have completely healed, but otherwise, his teeth were in such remarkably good condition for someone of this period that he may have enjoyed a special diet of some kind. Minute holes at the top of his eye orbits speak of a form of anaemia, or iron deficiency, but it seems that he’d have been unaware of this.
As for the manner of his death, he had been struck by at least four arrows and possibly by six, but there could have been still more arrows that either missed his bones or else were retrieved before he was buried. All the arrows had been fired from close range and there was nothing to suggest that any weapons other than arrows had been responsible for the man’s death. However, a polished stone wrist guard was also found in the grave, leading some people to suppose that he was an archer or bowman, while fragments of bluestone were also found with him.
There are many possible scenarios in which this man could have met his death, so let us go through them to see which, on balance, was the most probable.
Was it an accident? The marks on the skeleton showing the trajectory of the arrows clearly tell us that this man was shot repeatedly from close range. He was not accidentally hit by a shower of falling arrows intended to wound or kill a hunted animal.
Was this man an archer? His muscular build suggests that he may have been, as great strength was required to draw and effectively fire a Neolithic longbow, while what appears to be an archer’s wrist-guard was found buried with him. The wear and tear on his skeleton speaks of someone who had done a great deal of heavy lifting, but this doesn’t confirm or deny that this man was an archer.
As for what is almost always interpreted as being a wrist guard, however, there seems no doubt that it was a valuable object denoting status, so I find myself wondering why this wasn’t stolen, but left in the grave with him.
Was he some kind of criminal? It is possible that this man was fleeing towards Stonehenge when he was killed, perhaps to claim sanctuary. If so, it seems strange to bury him within the confines of the holy place, if we consider the counterscarp as the outer limit of the monument, while the same principle would apply if he were killed while fleeing the monument.
How many bowmen killed him? It is just possible that he was killed by upwards of six men, but the arrows that we know of were fired from behind. I personally find it hard to picture a scenario whereby such a large group of men, armed with bows and arrows, would not make another person at least mildly suspicious if they were grouped together within bowshot behind him.
If the killing had been planned in advance, then this suggests that none of the conspirators betrayed so much as a trace of their lethal intentions before a nod, or some other tacit signal, unleashed six or more simultaneous shots into the victim. It is of course possible, but I think it unlikely, while I also think it’s unlikely that the victim would have willingly accepted his fate and turned his back on his killers.
All things considered, I think that the simplest and most likely explanation is that there was a single killer who succeeded in taking his victim unawares.
Why were so many arrows used to kill this man? As we’ve seen from the evidence of the excavations at Durrington Walls by the Stonehenge Riverside Project, the use of arrows during this period may well have had a specific ceremonial use, as opposed to a purely practical one. Almost 2,000 years later, Pytheas wrote of Stonehenge being linked with Apollo, a god intimately associated with archery, so killing with arrows alone may possibly have been a specific requirement.
If the primary aim of the killer was simply to extinguish life with a maximum of speed and a minimum of fuss, then it would seem logical to incapacitate the victim with one or perhaps two arrows, wait until he collapsed, then either cut his throat, break his neck or crack his skull before retrieving the valuable shafts and continuing on his way. But the killer did not do so.
Otherwise, there are obvious practicalities involved. Otzi the Iceman didn’t die immediately from being shot in the back by one arrow in 3,300 BC, so it’s perfectly possible that the brawny young man in the ditch refused to lie down and die after being hit by one or more arrows. As he was so clearly a formidable opponent by virtue of his youth, size, fitness and physique, it strikes me as perfectly reasonable that an assassin might need to fire a number of arrows into him at close range to make absolutely sure that he wouldn’t get up and violently retaliate.
Why did the killer not attempt to retrieve these arrows from the corpse? One possibility is that these shafts were required by ceremony to remain in the victim, but if that were the case, why was at least one retrieved? Perhaps as some kind of trophy or memento of the occasion?
The killer may have believed that his victim was tainted in some way, either physically or spiritually, which might explain why the valuable wrist guard was left in place, but this man had been deliberately buried in a grave cut into the ditch, as opposed to merely being dumped there. If he had been physically tainted, then I think it unlikely that the killer would have torn an arrow from the body, while whoever buried him obviously wasn’t concerned by any notion of contagion.
Yet another possibility for the arrowheads and wrist guard being left in place is that the killer was anxious to leave, but why? To evade detection for what was a murder? To escape pursuit by his victim’s friends? This would imply that the killer was in too much of a hurry to retrieve his arrowheads, but that others later buried the body in the precinct of this monument (which suggests that the corpse could not have been tainted in their eyes) and left the wrist guard in place as some kind of mark of respect. If the killer was the same person who buried the body, which I doubt, then he clearly had time to dig a grave in a highly venerated location and he had ample time to retrieve his arrows, but he did not.
The tip of one arrow was found embedded in the man’s sternum, so the killer or those who buried him retrieved the shaft and the rest of the arrow. They may not have immediately noticed that the tip or the arrowhead was missing, but why retrieve one broken arrowhead, yet leave the more valuable wrist guard?
On balance, the evidence suggests that the actual killer was in a hurry to leave, but he may have simply been eager to get away from what he regarded as a cursed or terrifying place. Otherwise, custom might have required him to depart before a specific time such as sunrise, sunset or another time indicated by a shadow of one of the stones reaching a given point.
This would imply that those who later buried the body did not share the killer’s beliefs about the place, or else that they were custodians whose duty it was to inter such fatalities. There is also the remote possibility that the killer(s) or gravedigger(s) deliberately placed the stone wrist guard with a body that did not previously possess one as a mark of honour and respect, or a symbol of status.
I could continue for hours yet, exploring the various shades of possibility attached to this killing, but you’re welcome to look into it yourself, if you wish, and draw your own conclusions. The best sources that I know of are Salisbury Museum itself, Mike Pitts’ Hengeworld and the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, volume 78 (1984), pp 7-30, while there are various mentions and analyses in other books, and some material on the internet. For my part, every detail of the man’s life and death, including the precise location of the grave, points towards him having been a sentinel of some kind.
Stonehenge was undeniably a special place for numerous reasons, not least because it was capable of attracting visitors or pilgrims from as far away as continental Europe at the same time as this man met his death, while this man was buried at the entrance to a unique, complex and undoubtedly imposing monument that dominated the surrounding landscape.
The time was roughly 2,300 BC, when the stone monument had superseded the previous timber and earthwork structures. It seems that this was roughly when Stonehenge as we know it had just been completed or was approaching completion – at any rate, it was a significant or special time, because an unparalleled monument had been raised.
The manner in which this man met his death was unusual, inasmuch as he was killed from behind by what was most likely a solitary opponent, who fired numerous arrows into him. The dead man himself was notable, not only on account of his youth, build, musculature and age, but also because he had been fed a special diet, while I can’t help thinking that a special diet is fed to a special person, especially in an age such as this.
I’ve always been baffled by the many modern assumptions that the sunrise on Midsummer’s Day, when Stonehenge was in active use, was automatically a cause for rejoicing, because it occurred to me that it was just as likely that someone inside the monument might have good cause to fear the sunrise.
I think that the dead man from the ditch was a guardian or Sentinel, whose function it was to ceremonially guard the monument. I think that he was killed by an Assassin in the form of a bowman or archer, who caught him unawares when he was squinting into the rising sun after a sleepless night spent keeping watch, while I also think that this death was a ceremonial killing rather than one motivated by personal animosity or greed. If this matter of custodianship was an ongoing tradition, where are the other sentinels?
One other skeleton was discovered buried lying across the axis of the monument and this body was probably contemporary with the building of the stone structure – in the words of one of the authors of English Heritage’s Stonehenge in its Landscape, this body “hints at an otherwise unattested use of the monument”. Others were found in the early years of the twentieth century, but they were either poorly recorded or else have been lost or dumped before they could be properly studied, while a significant portion of the northwest of Stonehenge remains unexcavated by archaeologists.
Before the period in which this particular Sentinel died, many other individuals were buried or “ritually deposited” at Stonehenge. On page 121 of Hengeworld, Mike Pitts hazards an informed guess and writes of “two hundred and forty people, perhaps specially selected people, laid out on wooden pyres, burnt, their remains carefully collected and buried in holes in the ground on the edge of the circular Stonehenge enclosure.” He goes on “And we are not even guessing the number of people represented by bodies that were not burnt. We are talking big place, big events.”
After a number of years of working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project, Professor Mike Parker-Pearson is inclined to believe that people brought the remains of their relatives or friends from far and wide for burial at Stonehenge, but I can’t help thinking that a high proportion of these dead people first of all walked to Stonehenge before meeting a violent end there. Professor Richard Atkinson was in little doubt that it was a place of human sacrifice, while Aubrey Burl says very much the same on page 214 – 216 of his book The Stonehenge People, but there are others as well.
And what of any Sentinels who died after the man in the ditch had been killed? Stonehenge is surrounded by barrow cemeteries, so as these burial mounds are patently linked in some way with the monument, it seems perverse to suggest that at least some of the occupants were not guardians in some way of the ominous stone circle in their midst. Even before looking into the matter of the man found in the ditch in 1978, the whole landscape struck me as being a place where, in what were unquestionably violent times, guardians were buried around a structure they had revered and protected.
Nor am I alone in getting this impression. In a diary entry written on July 22nd 1654, John Evelyn wrote “Now we were arrived at Stone-henge, indeed a stupendous monument…about the same hills are divers mounds raised, conceived to be ancient entrenchments, or places of burial, after bloody fights.”
If the man found buried in the ditch was indeed a Sentinel, then it’s reasonable to ask what protection he would have had against an archer, because on the face of it, such a contest would have been a hopelessly one-sided affair.
In 1620, the Duke of Buckingham dug a large pit in the centre of Stonehenge, in which he found “…Batter-dashers, heades of arrows….bones rotten, but whether of stagges or men they could not tell.” The reference to men’s bones and arrowheads are clear enough, while I’m assuming that the “batter-dashers” were clubs or maces, judging from the sketch reproduced on page 47 of Christopher Chippindale’s Stonehenge Complete. Pieces of rusting armour were apparently found there as well, so it may possibly be that these maces or “batter-dashers” were mediaeval rather than prehistoric, but otherwise, polished stone maces have been found in surrounding barrows, fields and at Stonehenge itself.
One of the most notable characteristics of Stonehenge is its capacity for concealing what lies inside, from the internal bank that once stood as much as six feet high, to the narrow apertures between the sarsen and bluestone structures. I don’t doubt that these constricted gaps were employed as sighting aids for astronomical observations, but they would equally well have concealed or obscured the movements of a lone individual inside the monument, as far as an outside observer was concerned. There may once have been as many as ninety bluestones, each standing roughly six feet high, arranged inside Stonehenge, so these alone would have provided ample cover for an individual such as the Sentinel, or the man found buried in the ditch in 1978.
If it was a gloomy place full of drifting shadows at sunrise or sunset, then all the better for concealing a sentinel, while the same principle would have applied when Stonehenge was full of ceremonial posts and passages during its timber phase. As I pointed out in a previous post, Stonehenge has the curious property of apparently “drawing down starlight” or otherwise allowing an observer inside the ruins to spot someone else approaching in pitch blackness – all things considered, I think that a brawny and fit Sentinel armed with a stone mace waiting inside Stonehenge would have an equal chance against even a skilled hunter or archer trying to catch him unawares.
This leaves us to ponder the question of the wrist guard found with the body. The man found in the ditch may have been an archer himself, but I personally doubt it. If one archer was prepared to inflict such a violent end upon another and furthermore left three arrows inside his defeated opponent or quarry, then it seems overwhelmingly likely to me that he would have taken the stone wrist-guard before he left, either as a trophy or out of pure greed. However, he did not, nor did whoever buried the fallen man, but I can’t help thinking that the gravedigger, or more likely the killer, if they were different people, relieved the fallen man of a highly attractive polished stone mace head.
I suspect that the wrist-guard is somehow linked to the Sentinel’s missing incisor tooth, which he had lost so long before his violent death that healthy bone had naturally grown back over the gap. To quote the osteoarchaeologist Jackie McKinley from page 102 of Hengeworld, “He’d received a blow, or fallen over…he met with an accident, or had a bit of a punch-up.”
I may be in a minority of one, but it seems highly probable to me that this man had previously encountered another archer and had overcome him in a violent struggle – the Sentinel had lost a tooth in the process, but his opponent had lost his treasured wrist-guard and possibly his life as well. Am I reading too much into this matter of violent ceremonial encounters at Stonehenge? Possibly, but then again, I can’t help recalling what I thought were some striking details of the Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowman, two discoveries I worked on during my time at Wessex Archaeology.
- Both men have been conclusively linked to Stonehenge.
- Both men originated at a place other than the Wessex region.
- Both men came from “across the water” – in the case of the Archer, a voyage over the Channel was involved, while the (senior) Bowman presumably crossed the Severn Estuary.
- Both men were buried with a beaker decorated with a rare plaited cord inlay made on the wet clay before it was fired.
- Both men were buried with relatives close by.
- Both men lived at roughly the same time, around the date of the raising of the stone circles at Stonehenge.
- Both men were the same age when they died, between 35 and 45 years old.
- Both men were buried on their left sides with their heads facing north.
- Both men have been described as archers or bowmen by the archaeologists, by virtue of the finds in their graves.
- Both would have used short bows, necessitating a close approach to their enemy or quarry.
- Both men had savage wounds to the bones of their upper left legs.
- Both men survived the infliction of these wounds.
- Both men spent some years after suffering these wounds made conspicuous by their limp, which was centred on the left upper leg.
Again, there may well be many convincing reasons why two such men connected with Stonehenge should both suffer crippling wounds to their upper left legs, but an encounter with a right-handed, heavily-muscled man in the prime of life wielding a stone mace has to be a distinct possibility, especially if that man was around at the same time as the two wounded men (circa 2,300 BC) and if the mace-wielder were later found buried at Stonehenge, filled with arrows from yet another bowman.
As for the bows used at this time, I referred to a Neolithic longbow at the beginning, when discussing the physical strength of the Sentinel. However, the Wessex Archaeology website carries an intriguing observation by Dr Alison Sheridan of the National Museums of Scotland, which is especially interesting when we bear in mind the precise nature of the wounds found on the man in the ditch and the cover that Stonehenge would have afforded to anyone deliberately trying to conceal themselves inside the monument.
“Only a very few prehistoric bows have been found in Britain and Ireland. The earliest one dates to around 4,000 BC and was found at Rotten Bottom, in the Moffat Hills in south-west Scotland. This was a single-piece yew flatbow, which had probably broken during a deer hunt in the hills. The Amesbury Archer’s bow may well have been of a different kind – shorter, curved, and possibly made of one material. Such bows were adopted from Europe around 2,500 BC, and used alongside the older type. The Amesbury bow need not have been particularly powerful. If used for hunting, or even for combat, the archer would have tried to get as close to his prey/enemy as possible, to ensure that the arrows struck their target.”
When I think of the Sentinel and the manner in which he met his death, the famous passage by Strabo comes to mind; “But they would not sacrifice without the Druids. We are told of still other kinds of human sacrifices; for example, they would shoot victims to death with arrows, or impale them in the temples…”
In a similar vein, Caesar told us that the British Druids would sometimes fight or actually do combat amongst themselves to become the High Priest. “Of all these Druids one is chief, who has the highest authority among them. At his death, either any other that is pre-eminent in position succeeds, or, if there be several of equal standing, they strive for the primacy by the vote of the Druids, or sometimes even with armed force.”
Quite simply, when I read details of the ancient British priesthood, temples, arrows and an armed struggle to become the highest in the land, it’s impossible to avoid thinking of the powerful man filled with arrows, buried in the ditch at the entrance to a unique monument whose aura was potent enough to draw men from as far away as the Alps in 2,300 BC. There is something mesmerising about the manner of his death, not least because there are obvious religious overtones on account of the mysterious monument overlooking his grave, while if you look on this link, you can see for yourself how the matter of a holy man pierced by arrows has obsessed painters and artists through the ages.
There are echoes of the Sentinel’s death in what we know of the Druids, but there are also parallels between the story of Rex Nemorensis, the King of the Grove, and the scenario at Stonehenge. Pytheas wrote that the temple that was almost certainly Stonehenge was sacred to Apollo, a god intimately connected with archery, while as you can read elsewhere on this site, Professor Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University has recently advanced a similar theory. The temple in the grove at Nemi was dedicated to Diana, the Roman counterpart of Apollo’s sister Artemis, while Diana herself is invariably pictured with a bow.
Oak groves were especially sacred to Diana; according to the Oxford Classical Dictionary, one of her most famous shrines was on Mount Tifata near Capua, while the name Tifata means “holm-oak”. Stone 16 at Stonehenge is carved to represent the bark of an oak tree and there may have been others like it, while the Druids famously held many of their observances in oak groves; as for the subject of the Druids and Stonehenge, I’ve written about this in detail elsewhere on this site.
The twelfth century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth left us details of the supposed origin of Stonehenge and his account includes the following details “For in these stones is a mystery, and a healing virtue against many ailments. Giants of old did carry them from the furthest ends of Africa and did set them up in Ireland what time they did inhabit therein. And unto this end they did it, that they might make them baths whensoever they ailed of any malady, for they did wash the stones and pour forth the water into the baths, whereby they that were sick were made whole.”
Professor Darvill has further explored this matter in his most recent book Stonehenge, the Biography of a Landscape, where he points out that Preseli, the source of the Stonehenge bluestones, possessed many springs believed to have healing properties. What has this got to do with Nemi? Well, Diana wasn’t the only deity worshipped there, because the ancients also worshipped Egeria, a water nymph who presided over springs whose waters were believed to have healing properties, in this case, for women in labour. These elements of archery, healing waters, oak groves and human sacrifice in the stories of Nemi and Stonehenge are surely coincidences, but to my mind, they evoke the image of “the priest who slew the slayer, and shall himself be slain,” an image that comes to life when I contemplate the circumstances and details of the life and death of the Sentinel.
The Greek historian Strabo recorded the curious succession at Nemi, pointing out that “accordingly the priest is always armed with a sword, looking around for the attacks, and ready to defend himself.” Again, it is surely a coincidence, but the most famous prehistoric engraving at Stonehenge is that of a dagger, which can be seen in the centre of the photo below or else on this link.
Is there any other remote thing in the fabric of Stonehenge that might point towards the existence of a human functioning as a sentinel there? Possibly. In 1999, Dr Terence Meaden discovered what certainly appears to be a face carved in stone at Stonehenge. This stern, frowning countenance gazes in silence towards the west, the direction of the setting sun and the land of the dead, so if this idol was carved by human hands in prehistory, it may have represented or personified a lethal function carried out by beings of flesh and bone who once patrolled the perimeters of this gloomy site.
And so it goes. I’m not suggesting that any ceremony or ritual at Stonehenge in prehistory was the inspiration, direct or otherwise, for the murderous priesthood at Nemi, but both sites regularly witnessed the violent death of individual humans, both sites were linked with archery, both sites had an obvious religious significance, both sites were associated with healing waters, both sites had a sword, real or engraved, at their heart and both sites had groves – in the case of Stonehenge, its earlier timber phase may well have constituted an artificial grove of sorts.
The concept of a periodic ceremony at Stonehenge such as the one I’ve described would account for a great many aspects of the site, such as the human remains, the arrowheads, the stone maces, the surrounding barrows, the Avenue as a formal approach on Midsummer’s Day and of course, the Sentinel. One of the enduring mysteries about the place is why it was so little frequented, as there’s no evidence to suggest that large groups of people regularly visited the place, depositing “litter” while the monument was in active use.
To put it in unmistakably clear language, I suspect that this was because there was a large warning sign in the form of a watchful, muscular man periodically wielding a brutal stone mace at the point where the Avenue met the counterscarp. Numerous wooden posts once formed channels here, while later arrangements of stones, including the now-recumbent Slaughter Stone, may have constituted a portal into this Temple of Shadows.
Only shafts of sunlight could freely enter the monument, so perhaps shafts of another kind had to be successfully unleashed and human blood spilled to gain access into the Sanctum Sanctorum for the most important ceremonies or observances. There must have been a mighty prize indeed waiting inside to make such a perilous venture worthwhile.
“Res dura et regni novitas me tali cogunt moliri, et late fines custode tueri”.
‘Harsh necessity, and the newness of my kingdom, force me to do such things and to guard my frontiers everywhere.’ Virgil’s Aeneid, Book I, 563.
I’m extremely grateful to Salisbury Museum and its staff for their generous assistance and for permission to use the photograph of the remains of the Sentinel at the beginning of this piece. I strongly suggest that you visit their website, or better still, visit the museum itself if possible. I’m also extremely grateful to Detective Sergeant Glyn Jones of the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide & Serious Crime Command for his time, his patience and for telling me something of the relatively new science of victimology.
Finally, I’m indebted to the award-winning stuntman and stunt co-ordinator Rowley Irlam, whose most recent film is the forthcoming Adulthood. Rowley’s worked on a huge range of film productions including period pieces such as First Knight, Ivanhoe, Merlin, Troy, King Arthur, Sleepy Hollow and Elizabeth, while he’s appeared as a stunt double for Daniel Craig in The Golden Compass, for Dennis Hopper in Jason and the Argonauts and for Colin Farrell in Alexander.
When you include other films such as the Harry Potter, Tomb Raider, Batman, Star Wars and James Bond franchises, it’s clear that Rowley knows a thing or two about armed combat and the surroundings that these encounters take place in, so I thought it was well worth asking him for his professional opinion on what I had to say about a Sentinel and other armed combatants at Stonehenge.
He doubted that an archer would have had any great advantage over a determined opponent lurking around the stones, banks and ditches, while he thought that Stonehenge would have constituted “an eerily perfect setting for prehistoric duellists”, something I entirely agree with, especially in light of the surrounding barrows, the ceremonial approach, the weapons, the human remains and the parallels with what we know of the long-ago events at Nemi.
Words by Dennis Price. Stonehenge picture above reproduced with the kind permission of Adam Stanford of Aerial Cam and Archaeology Safaris Ltd. Photograph of the Stonehenge Face reproduced with kind permission of Professor Terence Meaden.