Stonehenge News Archive


I’m often sent information, articles and links relating to Stonehenge, but I don’t always have the time to follow them up or to write a full-length post about them. This is a shame, because we are all interested to different degrees in different aspects of the ruins, so the comments section beneath this page is for anyone who wishes to write in to alert everyone else to information or a news item about Stonehenge.

If you wish to contribute, just supply a brief description of the link you’re posting along with a few words about why it might interest others. If it’s presented clearly enough, it should become an interesting and perhaps useful archive for such things.

{ 382 comments… read them below or add one }

Aynslie July 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

The Silbury Hill Archive: the light at the end of the tunnel” by Jenny Ryder of English Heritage. Introducing her feature, she writes, “This is the first of a two-part blog reporting on the progress of my work in preparing the digital data from the English Heritage Silbury Hill Conservation Project for deposition.”

Aynslie July 9, 2013 at 11:53 am

Another interesting blog, this time about Stonehenge, by Tim Daw: “Digging into David Field’s Central Mound Theory.”

Aynslie July 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm

The whole scanned-in volume of John Aubrey’s Monumenta Britannica online, with text and illustrations all in his own hand. Just click the page turner button and begin reading!

Jonathan July 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I understand (via Pete Glastonbury) that the Sky at Night will be doing an extended piece on Solstice this Thursday (BBC4):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036r5nj

Aynslie July 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Five and a half months of blogging that records Neolithic homes being planned, built, exhibited and finally demolished near Stonehenge.

Aynslie July 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Dry weather brings out parch marks at Stonehenge.

Austin July 20, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I have viewed the replica of the above Bush Barrow lozenge on two occasions on display at the Devizes (now Wiltshire museum ). The first time I watched the above Sky at Night video and the original lozenge being displayed and handled I too was struck by the jaw dropping beauty of it and the exquisite quality of the etching of the geometric patterns on the gold.

Some time ago I discovered on the web a tenuous connection between the geometric design on the Bush Barrow lozenge with that of Inanna, a goddess deity of the ancient Sumerians. The fragmented and now largely deciphered cuneiform tablets of the Sumerians (the marsh Arab region of southern Iraq) are generally now considered to be the world’s first comprehensive writing system and I have found it fascinating recently to read the Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer 1983 interpretation of the tablets in relation to the stories of Inanna, scribed around 2000bc.

Although in reality there is more than likely no connection between the Bush Barrow lozenge design and the Sumerian Queen of Heaven and Earth Inanna, the journey of discovery that reading stories actually written in 2000bc by our neighbours in the Middle East has been a fascinating insight into their thinking from a time in history before there are written records in Britain.

JohnWitts July 21, 2013 at 7:56 am

Re the scorch marks – fascinating – It is to be hoped that someone will be able to take advantage and get an aerial view of them so that those with the expertise can put them into computer graphics. I wonder how they compare them with the expected positions?

Neil Wiseman July 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Hi John,
Tim Daw has several ground-level photographs on his site: Sarsen.Org.
The marks appear to be exactly where the missing Stones should occur.
I have long been a proponent of ‘Intentionally Omitted’ Stones – but as with so many other Stonehenge mysteries, I may be compelled to re-think that premise.
I am investigating the possibility of a photographic over-flight this week and will report back on any results.
Hateful as it may sound, I hope the heat-wave lasts long enough!
Best,
Neil

Juris Ozols July 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

John -

I was thinking exactly the same thing. I can do the computer graphics, not an issue, but the current pictures aren’t quite good enough – too much geometric distortion. I might try it anyway.

But if I got a vertical shot of those you would have a “complete stonehenge” graphic very quickly.

Juris

Aynslie July 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Just for a laugh: I just Gizoogled EI and this is what I got.

Neil Wiseman July 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm

!! WTF !!
LOLOLOLOLOL !!!

* running to toilet *

Austin July 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I hear , the American rapper Jay Z visited Salisbury Cathedral last week to view an original copy of the Magna Carta and released an album called Holy Grail
so all de kidz what was inta gangsta rap is now gettin inta British history,
and gizoogled EI speaks their language now they will be hangin with da homies in their cribs near da Henge .
I am reluctant to use the expression but LOL too .

Dennis July 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I’m pleased all my homies in da Eternal Idol hood will now be getting down with the kids to do some crucial Stonehenge research, innit? ‘Bout time we was all dragged into the 21st century – massive respect to Aynslie!

Aynslie July 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Whoa. Who’dah guessed that’s what it would take to get Dennis to make an appearance?

Now get back ta chillin’, Den!

Juris Ozols July 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Aynslie -

I think EI has been hacked.

I know the man. Dennis does not speak that way. It’s an impostor. You need to look into that!

Juris

AHanna July 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Juris -

Never fear! As the real Dennis can attest, I can be quite a bloodhound when it comes to tracking things down quickly, so when I catch that impostor, I’ll force him into taking a job educating “de kidz” that Austin referred to all about “da Henge”! That’ll teach him!

Aynslie

Neil July 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Anyone seen this?

http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/projects/wiltshire/stonehenge-avebury-rrf/new-combined-research-agenda-june-2012

Research agenda for Stonehenge and Avebury. Makes interesting reading.

Neil

Aynslie August 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hmmm…What does this remind us of?

AHanna August 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Looks like someone else had the same idea.

Jonathan August 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Hi Neil

Yes, had a look at that (and the other one). The same sort of question always seems to come up:

Why?
All the above questions lead inexorably to the Why? questions, although these are perhaps the first that come into most people’s minds. Why were these monuments built — why here, why then, why at all? What was their purpose? These are also the most difficult questions for archaeologists to answer as they require us to attempt what archaeology is ill-equipped to do — to gain insight into the motivations and mind-sets of prehistoric communities

A problem is perhaps that there is a vast multitude of potential leads. An interpretation which gives a reasonable insight into their motivation, in a logical and consistent manner relative to that period in time, is likely to be very difficult to find (but will probably be entirely obvious in retrospect).

But given that there are so many possibilities, how are archaeologists to know what to look at? How to sort the wheat from the chaff if they do not have expertise in each of the multitude of potential answers.

I looked at the document but came to the conclusion that, unlike for example government consultations, there is no mechanism which would allow effective external and/or multi-disciplinary contribution to the process.

JohnWitts August 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I do not think motivation is that complex? Minds accord to circumstances and if you feel that your life is open to the control of supernatural beings (or even just plain old Mother Nature) then you have to ensure that they act in a way that is favourable to you. If you are hunter-gatherer there is no point in propitiating gods for crops you do not grow – your need is for gods which control the forest (if this is where your prey is) the animals and the chase.

With agriculture then your need is for a god who will ensure a good harvest. As life becomes more complex then so do the gods. Specialists, such as metal workers, will have their own gods and local gods, based on deified ancestors, will also be added to the pantheon so that you arrive at the Celtic pantheon?

Jonathan August 5, 2013 at 5:24 am

I do not think motivation is that complex? … If you are hunter-gatherer there is no point in propitiating gods for crops you do not grow — your need is for gods which control the forest (if this is where your prey is) the animals and the chase.

There’s the dilemma: If they were howling savages, then almost any gods theory will do: We don’t need logic to explain it. If they were not howling savages, then the motivation may be more complex (and perhaps even understandable in a modern context).

Austin August 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Gods of the forest and the chase sounds like echos of the green man and particularly the elusive Gwyn ap Nudd .

The connection of different Gods/deities for the earlier hunter-gatherers and later settled farmers is one I have naively not made before..so thank you. I do feel the sun would have still been fundamental to the hunter-gatherers as it is easier to hunt and exist generally in good weather than in driving rain and a howling wind. The sun is also inherently uplifting on a personal human level. ‘Summertime, and the living is easy, fish are jumping, etc.’

It is not a wide stretch of the imagination to assume the hunter-gatherers may have had solar, lunar and star-based deities as well as ones for the hunt.

There is a primaeval fear that we still feel to this day particularly when deep in forests, be it of the monsters/predators, getting lost, etc., so there may have been a complex assemblage of gods that controlled the forests, the animals and the chase.

I do not warm to the term ‘howling savages’. Life may have been short and brutal, but their brains were as complex, inquiring and sophisticated as our own, with the same hanker for spiritual nourishment, one could reasonably assume.

Neil Wiseman August 6, 2013 at 2:27 am

I do not warm to the term ‘howling savages’. Life may have been short and brutal, but their brains were as complex, inquiring and sophisticated as our own, with the same hanker for spiritual nourishment, one could reasonably assume.

Hi Austin,

The term “Howling Savage” is used as more of a Homeric Epithet these days rather than what people currently think of our predecessors. Coined by Atkinson in the late 1950′s, it was the outer extent of what snippets they could piece together of a culture for which there were few other clues. It also continued an age-old trend that places us in a superior position to those who came before. Now known to be a bit pretentious, based upon what we are finding out at a rapid pace today, the term is used with a pinch of humour.

On the other hand, today the trend is to apply the term ‘Ritual’ to a place or artifact that has no precedent. (They’ll probably all laugh at that weasel-word 30 years on.)

We now know that life in the UK Neolithic was probably not particularly brutal, harsh or cut short due to the environment. They began by living from, and at the whim of the environment, true. But they wound up the masters of it. They had homes, families, a keen sense of community, taught their young, had a merit system, took care of their elderly and ate quite well. I have a real sense that their religious structure was off-the-chart sophisticated. Warm in winter and busy for the good months, they looked to the past, present and future of their culture, while ever-learning the wonders of a singularly optimistic world as overseen by the Sun King. They had scholars, oral and cultural traditions, and I feel strongly that they had coveted centers of higher learning. At the end, theirs was an old culture, culled from and grafted with several in the very ancient days of the late Mesolithic, and on, where it morphed and blended with still others up until it all became something else again.

One of the things that I always stress when discussing these things is the time-frame within which it all took place. I hear many people speak as though it all happened in a couple of hundred years. The process we study took thousands of years, and what we see in its beginning is but a dim reflection of those at the end. We today have little frame of reference for these enormous lengths of time, so we tend to compress it into terms we can grasp. A good example of this is if the Y and Z Holes were completed yesterday, then the Ditch and Bank would have been fashioned around the time the Vikings colonized Iceland.

Stonehenge in its final form is a late fragment during that people’s long epoch. But it allows us to learn fairly precisely what they knew, how long they must have known it, and how to express that stylized knowledge in a unique fashion that would last forever.

‘Howling Savages’ play no role here.
Thoughtful, clever, forward-thinking people do.

Best Wishes,
ND Wiseman

Jonathan August 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Yes, sorry Austin: ‘Howling Savage’ was just a re-use of Atkinson’s term. As Neil says, I also don’t believe that ‘Howling Savages’ plays a role here (and also that thoughtful, clever, forward-thinking people do.)

Austin August 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Thank you for your responses above Neil and Jonathan, particularly Neil’s illuminating description of a constantly evolving and optimistic society steeped in religious practices evolved from truly living in harmony with nature.

What nature would have revealed to and how it would have cooperated with our ancestors living, breathing and feeling that harmony in those unique times, and as ‘masters of their environment’, we can ponder, but I guess we will never be able to touch the zeitgeist of those times.

My own yearning to know of the past perhaps bubbles up from a subconscious and romantic Blakean notion to soak up tales/evidence of a fabled lost golden age of Albion. To know that there were halcyon days, before we somehow fell from grace. To find Albion’s mythical sun temple, to sit around an evening’s fire and speak with the all knowing ‘sun king’ under the moon and stars.

It is I who am the howling savage, as our own zeitgeist unfortunately does not share the same optimism as that of our elusive ancestors. I will therefore steep myself in the dreams and fantasies of yesterday’s optimism.

The apologies gentlemen are mine for an ill considered off the cuff post.

Neil Wiseman August 8, 2013 at 3:35 am

My own campfire is right here, Austin, and I talk with thoughtful clever people all the time about the things that came before. Knowing that there is little difference between how they and we thought gives me a sense that people everywhere through the Ages have spent reflective moments on what was and what may come to be. We bring the ‘Spirit of the Times’ with us where we go, be it in a glass and steel high-rise or sitting on the moss by a gentle brook in the forest.

Jonathan August 8, 2013 at 7:31 am

My own yearning to know of the past perhaps bubbles up from a subconscious and romantic Blakean notion to soak up tales/evidence of a fabled lost golden age of Albion. To know that there were halcyon days, before we somehow fell from grace. To find Albion’s mythical sun temple, to sit around an evening’s fire and speak with the all knowing “sun king” under the moon and stars.

What if the cause of the golden age of Albion would inevitably lead to large scale conflict due to an imperfection: Something that nobody could foresee but would inevitably occur? If you lived in such a time, and had managed to obtain knowledge from the future, would you join their ways and have your memory wiped clean, or would you try to tell them about their imperfection and thus change their future?

If the former, you knowingly let their culture fail. If the latter, you change them into us.

But either way, sooner or later, they will end up as us.

If such a dilemma could have existed, would we really want to know what caused the golden age or would we just prefer to retain the era as a distant memory?

Austin August 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23609994

Mesolithic tool making factory found on the Thames during Crossrail project .

AHanna August 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

The Hills Have Eyes…and a Spear: Wiltshire hill figure contemporary with early phases of Stonehenge and Avebury.

JohnWitts August 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm

London – it did not exist before Rome?

Aynslie August 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Not according to this, John.

AHanna August 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Stonehenge and Avebury: just went live today.

Dennis August 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm

The new Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site has just been launched in a blaze of publicity. My main interest has always been in offering people as much information as possible on Stonehenge and its landscape, so I naturally headed straight for the Education page on this new site, where I read:

“English Heritage, the National Trust, Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire Museum and Wessex Archaeology all offer educational all offer educational resources for learning outside the classroom.”

Wonderful – however, it continues: “It’s not just about history either. The Stonehenge & Avebury WHS can be used for literacy….amongst other things.”

I think not.

Dennis August 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm

From the Home page, 2nd paragraph: “At Avebury the massive banks and ditches of the henge enclose its largest.” which has certainly encouraged me to “Find out more about what makes both Stonehenge and Avebury so speical…”

Further down the Home page, we read “Please contact us if you have any suggestions for items to include on the website.”

Contributions from someone who can actually write and spell might be a pleasing start, closely followed by any original material whatsoever to do with Avebury and Stonehenge, something that your average visitor might reasonably expect from visiting this slovenly site.

DanJ August 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Dennis
How can you be so critical of such well-meaning and, obviously, well-educated educators bringing enlightenment to our young? These people should not be arbitrarily held to the standards of a 6th grader as that is an unfair comparison, considering they have college degrees. I’m glad you’re back, but saddened by such harsh criticism of those exemplars of scholarly virtue at EH.

Dennis August 10, 2013 at 12:02 am

Christ almighty, it gets even worse – on the About Us page, I read that the World Heritage Site is “…full of incredible things to explore and opportunites to learn about aspects of life in the prehistory.” Which complete idiot wrote this?

Presumably, the same one responsible for the following, on the Our Partners page: “…Both Stonehenge and Avebury have Steering Committees made up of representives of the Wolrld Heritage Site…” To add insult to injury, the author(s) have doubtless been paid handsomely for their efforts as well.

Stonehenge and Avebury are jewels in the crown of Britain’s history. They’re flagship World Heritage sites and as such, the very least they deserve is to be presented properly, but the text on this site is frankly embarrassing and makes me ashamed to be British. Are these people illiterate? Do they not have a spell-checker on their computers? Did it ever occur to any of them to check the text on the site before it went online? Did it ever occur to them to get someone else – who can spell – to check the text before it went online?

I genuinely dread to think what else lurks on this awful site, I really do.

Austin August 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Jonathan, I guess the fabled golden age of Albion, as lucidly described by Neil above, was a fleeting moment in time, inevitably subject to its own shortcomings. The one constant with time is change and a ‘paradise’ that does not adapt to new influences and evolve becomes stale and distorted…As you say all roads lead to now.

In HG Wells’s time machine when the time traveller reaches 802 701 AD and first meets the Eloi, they appear at first to live as hunter gatherers in an earthly paradise. Soon he discovers the fundamental flaws of this highly evolved society and reality reveals it as something completely different than it first appeared.

I guess, too, for all the shortcomings of our own times, we can live in hope that perhaps somewhere between the 2013 AD Disneyfication of Stonehenge and 802 701AD, we can one day return to a dynamic second golden age of Albion.

Aynslie August 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm

According to Mike Pitts, conclusions have been drawn regarding the parch marks at Stonehenge that Tim Daw featured on his blog and that were discussed here back in July. Scroll down a bit. If anyone gets this copy of BritArch, please share what it says.

ND Wiseman August 15, 2013 at 12:38 am

Everyone – including Mike Pitts – are reporting rather breathlessly on these simple evidentiary features. No media circus, no elaborate sponsorships, no internecine bureaucracy to struggle uphill with – no waiting at all. Just a week or so of some ungodly heat without rain.

There is also a fair amount of caution expressed by some when discussing the parch-marks by those who might have their apple carts upset if it turns out to be that Stones -17 & -18 were in fact erected. But caution is a good thing in these matters.

Being a long-time proponent of the ‘Intentionally Omitted’ school, people have assumed that I am sulking sullenly in a corner, twirling my hair while my artificially constructed world comes crashing down around me.
Nothing could be further from the truth and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I have to do some creative re-writes, all my drawings have to be reworked, I have to answer several ‘sympathy cards’ and so on …
But when dealing with Stonehenge, what else is new?

I believe these parchmarks are very good evidence for the long-missing Stones, while my discussions with some of the on-site principals have convinced me that it’s quite probable.

I am in the US and therefore don’t have ‘boots-on-the-ground’ as they say. But my efforts to find out more have led me to commission an hour-long photographic overflight of the site for late Friday afternoon, (2 days from now) and have engaged a noted local photographer and an aircraft for this purpose. Though I’m told that the marks are now fading, I still hope to see what can be made of them. (Among many other things in the immediate area).

I would be happy to report the results of this venture to all interested parties.

Best wishes,

Neil

Jonathan August 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Hi Neil

I believe these parchmarks are very good evidence for the long-missing Stones, while my discussions with some of the on-site principals have convinced me that it’s quite probable.

It certainly does seem to indicate something new. Personally I would love 17 and 18 to be missing: The amount of work (to redact the novel) would far exceed the amount of work I would have if they were proven to have never existed (removing 17 and 18 from the non-fiction versions would be really easy).

Everyone — including Mike Pitts — are reporting rather breathlessly on these simple evidentiary features. No media circus, no elaborate sponsorships, no internecine bureaucracy to struggle uphill with — no waiting at all. Just a week or so of some ungodly heat without rain.

It’s a marvellous discovery by Tim. However, the subsequent storyline seems to rely exclusively on archaeological provenance, rather than forensic quality, to justify its case.

It makes an interesting comparison with the commercial investigation of historic structures. If this were a forensic engineering exercise rather than archaeology, the discovery would not be seen to be noteworthy with respect to the stones because it only indicates that holes may have been dug. From a construction perspective, trial holes are what one would expect to have existed (regardless of whether or not the stones were erected): So this evidence, despite the tabloid headline, tells us little new information about whether or not the stones were installed.

So personally I’m doing nothing as a result of the discovery: I guess the only problem with relying exclusively on archaeological provenance is that it actively discourages any form of participation from external sources?

Juris Ozols August 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I believe I’ve seen claims by a school of thought that maintains that not only was Stonehenge never “complete,” the Stonehengers actually never intended it to be complete.

If there are in fact stone holes under the parchmarks, whether or not stones were ever erected, it would seem to bury this idea in its own stone hole.

Neil – if you get some aerial photos I for one would be extremely interested in what you find. And certainly photos of the general area around Stonehenge including the Avenue, King Barrow Ridge and the Cursus would also be fascinating.

Juris

ND Wiseman August 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hi Juris!
There are those who believe that both the Trilithons and the Circle went up relatively quickly; the 2 features separated by only 100 years or so. But whether it took 10 or 110 to build each System, I’m not seeing a scenario where they’d dig 1 Hole – let alone 2 – in advance and then leave them vacant.

Additionally, the perennial argument with regard to the tenons on 16 and 19 comes back to life with this supposition.

I’ll be happy to share anything I find with everyone, never fear!
Best,
Neil

Jonathan August 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I’m not seeing a scenario where they’d dig 1 Hole — let alone 2 — in advance and then leave them vacant.

No, me neither. But trial holes to expose the bearing surface (below the soft weathered chalk and below topsoil): That’s an easy job and you would want to do it before doing the design, and definitely before ‘ordering’ the stones.

ND Wiseman August 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Hi Jon!
My old friend, you’re employing modern practices to a Neolithic enterprise.

Let’s review.
I think we can safely assume that the Northeast section was erected first. The care it took to so carefully shape and seat these most viewable of Stones seems to me to be the ones they’d put up initially.

We know that the degree of care fell off sharply the further around the Circle we go toward ‘the back’, and by examining those which remain can assume a ‘Get-R-Dun’ ethic. (This with the exception of S-16 and theoretically S-15).

The point is, with this scenario in mind, we can deduce that they already knew that the foundation would be fine. Additionally, that area had been dug and re-dug from time out of mind. Therefore, the effort expended to dig test holes and its rationale seems slightly fringe.

Obviously we’ll have to wait and see what comes of it, but as shown, other holes as they appeared in parchmark form this summer also occur at S-19, -9 and -8, and those Stones are extant.

Best wishes,
Neil

JohnWitts August 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I do not think the builders of Stonehenge were tentative? Far from it – they had inherited the experience of moving and standing huge boulders.
I cannot see any reason why the sarsen circle should not have been complete – I have seen the proposal before and have wondered what it is based upon?

ND Wiseman August 16, 2013 at 2:27 am

Hi John,
Just to clarify – and speaking strictly for myself – a breakdown of the major Schools of Thought as I understand them are basically three. 1.) It was complete, then robbed-out in unrecorded times. 2.) It was never complete for a number of reasons that need not be illuminated here – but was still robbed-out. 3.) The one that I subscribed to: It was incomplete by design, with the SW vacancy intended for unknown purpose.

There are several questions and contradictions inherent in any discussion of these three points, but I liked Number Three because even after all the GPR runs, side-scan rotoscope (or whatever they call it) and what amounts to long-term armchair analysis, no evidence for -17 or -18′s Stone Sockets has ever conclusively been found.

The new and humble parchmarks have caused, and will continue to cause, great gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments. But suffice it to say that within the growing attention this titillating evidence has produced, I predict that it won’t be long before some decisive physical investigation follows – sooner rather than later. It’s conclusions will put the age-old discussion to bed.
And this is a good thing.

Best,
Neil

Jonathan August 16, 2013 at 6:28 am

Therefore, the effort expended to dig test holes and its rationale seems slightly fringe.

A day of work on the easy part of a hole (which you are going to have to dig anyway to get the stone in): From this, you can be sure what lengths of stone you need. Versus say 5,000 man days to get one stone to site.

Fringe?

Jonathan August 16, 2013 at 7:18 am

I cannot see any reason why the sarsen circle should not have been complete — I have seen the proposal before and have wondered what it is based upon?

You can find a “never completed” theory on Robert Langdon’s site:

http://robertjohnlangdon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/stonehenge-atlantis-momentous-discovery.html

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