Stonehenge

This is the best known of all the megalithic constructs. Figure 6.28 gives the modern appearance of the monument, and the layout of the site is given in Figure 6.29.

Stonehenge has been speculated about since the 12th century,20 and carries back in legend further than this. The comments of the Sicilian writer Diodorus, discussed in the context of Callanish, are often thought to refer to Stone-henge, but they are not Stonehenge-specific. Moreover, the historicity of Diodorus's source, the 6th-century b.c. writer Hecataeus, is not regarded with any great confidence. Ptolemy refers to both the 19th parallel (511/2°N, longest day of 16V2 equinoctial hours) through southernmost "Brittania" and the 28th (62°N, 1972 equinoctial hours) through "Eboudae," by which he means the Hebrides (Toomer 1984, pp. 87-89, fn. 65). Roman references to the island are

20 Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of England contains a summary of legends regarding the site.

common; in particular, many historical references can be found to the Druids and their worship of trees, stones, and sky deities. However, the Druids were not the builders of this or of the other megalithic sites, although they may have used and maintained them. The origins are in the Neolithic. The history of speculation about Stonehenge is entertainingly conveyed by Hawkins (1965). The chronology (based on Atkinson 1956/1979 but revised with other data) is given in Table 6.3.

Archeologists agree that Stonehenge appears to have been built in three stages. The 14C age for Stonehenge I is ~3000-2500 b.c. (see Hoyle 1977a, pp. 32-34 for the details of the process and further comments), whereas the last phase, Stonehenge III, was constructed about 1000 years later. We begin our discussion with Stonehenge I.

The earliest stage involved the construction of a 409-ft. (125-m) diameter ditch that defines the outer part of the monument, a large earth bank, 56 chalk-filled holes (the Aubrey Holes21) arranged in a circle within the banked enclosure, mounds located within the bank, an entrance "causeway" created by a 35-ft (10.7-m) break in the bank and ditch to the northeast, a large standing stone (No. 96) known as the "Heel Stone" (also written "Heelstone" or "Hele stone"), post holes near the causeway and near the Heel Stone, and stone holes in the entrance (Figure 6.30).

The Heel Stone is of a kind of sandstone, called a "sarsen" stone (derivation uncertain). It rises 16ft (8.5m) above ground (another 4ft is estimated to lie below the surface) and has a thickness never less than 8ft (2.4-m) across its length. The Causeway and postholes preceded the erection of the Heel Stone, which otherwise would have obscured the posts on the right-hand side of the Causeway. Wood (1978, pp. 162-164) argues persuasively that the Causeway, originally oriented a few degrees north of midwinter sunrise, and the posts in the Causeway were intended for observation of the northern risings of the Moon. Brinckerhoff (1976) noted that between the Causeway posts the Moon could be observed to rise at 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2 of the length of time between the midpoint and major standstill of the lunar cycle. The Heel Stone would have marked a lunar midpoint rise more permanently than any wooden post. Another group of features seems to involve alignments from a slightly later stage of construction (late in Stonehenge I or in Stonehenge II), and so we discuss these before the Aubrey Holes themselves. Within the Aubrey Hole ring perimeter are four "Stations," 91, 92, 93, and 94 (indicated on Figure 6.29), which form a rectangle of important solar alignments. Stations 91 and 93 are stones (Station stone 91 is a fallen menhir, 3.66 m long). Stations 92 and 94 are on opposing mounds (covering Aubrey holes and thus indicating that they are newer), with 92 being the site of a filled hole that may have held a stone or post. At the latitude of Stonehenge, 51°11', this rectangle describes the approximate alignment of extreme aspects of the horizon solar calendar, i.e., the amplitude of

21 Named after John Aubrey. Aubrey inspected and reported on the site for Charles II, beginning in 1663. His description of the chalk-filled holes is contained in his unpublished manuscript entitled Monumenta Brittanica now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

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