STONEHENGE'S builders were "way more advanced than anything we ever imagined," historian Dan Snow claimed after visiting the site and making a "remarkable" find.
Recent fieldwork and analysis have revealed evidence for 20 or more massive, prehistoric shafts, measuring more than 10 metres in diameter and 5 metres deep. These shafts form a circle more than 2 kilometres in diameter and enclose an area greater than 3 square kilometres around the Durrington Walls henge, one of Britain’s largest henge monuments, and the famous, smaller prehistoric circle at Woodhenge.
The project and its results are presented at scientific conferences, in peer-reviewed and popular articles, and at public presentations. The following publications and media reports have appeared so far:
- V. Gaffney, E. Baldwin, M. Bates, C.R. Bates, C. Gaffney, D. Hamilton, T. Kinnaird, W. Neubauer, R. Yorston, R. Allaby, H. Chapman, P. Garwood, K. Löcker, A. Hinterleitner, T. Sparrow, I. Trinks, M. Wallner, M. Leivers. A Massive, Late Neolithic Pit Structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge. Internet Archaeology 55. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.55.4
- V. Gaffney, W. Neubauer, P. Garwood, C. Gaffney, K. Löcker, R. Bates, P. De Smedt, E. Baldwin, H. Chapman, A. Hinterleitner, M. Wallner, E. Nau, R. Filzwieser, J. Kainz, T. Trausmuth, P. Schneidhofer, G. Zotti, A. Lugmayer, I. Trinks, A. Corkum. Archaeological Prospection. Volume 25, Issue 3, July/September 2018, Pages: 255-269.
- C. Gaffney, V. Gaffney, W. Neubauer, E. Baldwin, H. Chapman, P. Garwood, H. Moulden, T. Sparrow, R. Bates, K. Löcker, A. Hinterleitner, I. Trinks, E. Nau, T. Zitz, S. Floery, G. Verhoeven, M. Doneus, 2012. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project. Archaeological Prospection. Volume 19, Issue 2, April/June 2012, Pages: 147-155.
- Puttting Stonehenge in its place. Scientific American. March 2nd 2011.
University of Adelaide research has for the first time statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain, the great circles, were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago.
“These people chose to erect these great stones very precisely within the landscape and in relation to the astronomy they knew. They invested a tremendous amount of effort and work to do so. It tells us about their strong connection with their environment, and how important it must have been to them, for their culture and for their culture’s survival.” ❧
Connection to environment and importance for culture’s survival.
Annotated on September 18, 2020 at 07:46AM
I led the team of researchers that discovered that Stonehenge was most likely to have been originally built in Pembrokeshire, Wales, before it was taken apart and transported some 180 miles to Wiltshire, England. It may sound like an impossible task without modern technology, but it wouldn't have been the first time prehistoric Europeans managed to move a monument.
A host of previously unknown archaeological monuments have been discovered around Stonehenge as part of an unprecedented digital mapping project that will transform our knowledge of this iconic landscape – including remarkable new findings on the world's largest 'super henge', Durrington Walls.
Archaeologists said Monday that they have discovered a major prehistoric monument under the earth near Stonehenge that could shed new light on the origins of the mystical stone circle in southwestern England.
Archaeologists said Monday that they have discovered a major prehistoric monument under the earth near Stonehenge that could shed new light on the origins of the mystical stone circle in southwestern England. ❧
Why in God’s name are they using the word “mystical” in a science article about this? It’s use only serves to muddy the water and encourage fanciful speculation and further myths.
Annotated on September 18, 2020 at 07:00AM
Stonehenge, a Neolithic wonder in southern England, has vexed historians and archaeologists for centuries with its many mysteries: How was it built? What purpose did it serve? Where did its towering sandstone boulders come from?
Carved stone balls are petrospheres dated from the late Neolithic to possibly as late as the Iron Age mainly found in Scotland, but also elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. They are usually round and rarely oval, and of fairly uniform size at around 2.75 inches or 7 cm across, with 3 to 160 protruding knobs on the surface. They range from having no ornamentation (apart from the knobs) to extensive and highly varied engraved patterns. A wide range of theories have been produced to explain their use or significance, with none gaining very wide acceptance.
A revolutionary new idea on the movement of big monument stones like those at Stonehenge has been put forward by an archaeology student. He discovered that many of the late Neolithic stone balls had a diameter within a millimeter of each other, which he felt indicated they would have been used together in some way rather than individually.
New archeological finds shed light on the most misunderstood monument of the ancient world.
Dated to the late Stone Age, Stonehenge may be the best-known and most mysterious relic of prehistory. Every year, a million visitors are drawn to England to gaze upon the famous circle of stones, but the monument's meaning has continued to elude us. Now investigations inside and around Stonehenge have kicked off a dramatic new era of discovery and debate over who built Stonehenge and for what purpose.
How did prehistoric people quarry, transport, sculpt, and erect these giant stones? Granted exclusive access to the dig site at Bluestonehenge, a prehistoric stone-circle monument recently discovered about a mile from Stonehenge, NOVA cameras join a new generation of researchers finding important clues to this enduring mystery.
Neil Wilkin is back with another bronze age adventure. In this episode he is joined by Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian for English Heritage to discuss the history and importance of Stonehenge. Going into the heart of the monument and looking at some related bronze age objects Neil and Susan explore the connections between Stonehenge, the rest of Britain and the continent.
Discover more about 'Making Connections: Stonehenge in its Prehistoric World' an exhibition that runs from 12 October 2018 until 21 April 2019: http://bit.ly/2QRzFDb Watch James Dilley (@ancientcraftUK) as he recreates a Carved Stone Ball using the same techiniques and methods as stone workers from the late Neolithic era.
This took me back to a time and something I’d forgotten writing, that has made me rethink where we are now: https://t.co/COgNQnutZr
— Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) April 25, 2020
“power is distributed very unevenly throughout the global network of higherEd institutions. If digital innovation is left to the market, we will continue to see scale and standardisation dressed up as personalisation and differentiation.” @KateMfD https://t.co/pqskuKPbQj
— Robin DeRosa (@actualham) April 25, 2020
What surprises me is that it’s about education and pedagogy that starts off with a vignette in which Kate Bowles talks about the unknown purpose of Stonehenge.
But I’ve been doing some serious reading on the humanities relating to memory, history, and indigenous cultures over the last few years. It dawns on me:
I know what those stones are for!
A serious answer provided by Australian science and memory researcher Dr. Lynne Kelly indicates that Stonehenge and similar monolithic sites built by indigenous cultures across the world are–in fact–pedagogic tools!!
We’ve largely lost a lot of the roots of our ancient mnemonic devices through gradual mis- and dis-use as well as significant pedagogic changes by Petrus Ramus, an influential French dialectician, humanist, logician, and educational reformer. Scholar Frances Yates indicated in The Art of Memory that his influential changes in the mid-1500’s disassociated memory methods including the method of loci, which dated back to ancient Greece, from the practice of rhetoric as a field of study. As a result we’ve lost a fantastic tradition that made teaching and the problem of memory far worse.
Fortunately Lynne Kelly gives a fairly comprehensive overview of indigenous cultures across human history and their use of these methods along with evidence in her book Memory Code which is based on her Ph.D. thesis. Even better, she didn’t stop there and she wrote a follow up book that explores the use of these methods and places them into a modern pedagogy setting and provides some prescriptive uses.
I might suggest that instead of looking forward to technology as the basis of solutions in education, that instead we look back—not just to our past or even our pre-industrial past, but back to our pre-agrarian past.
Let’s look back to the tremendous wealth of indigenous tribes the world over that modern society has eschewed as “superstitious” and “simple”. In reality, they had incredibly sophisticated oral stories and systems that they stored in even more sophisticated memory techniques. Let’s relearn and reuse those techniques to make ourselves better teachers and improve our student’s ability to learn and retain the material with which they’re working.
Once we’ve learned to better tap our own memories, we’ll realize how horribly wrong we’ve been for not just decades but centuries.
This has been hard earned knowledge for me, but now that I’ve got it, I feel compelled to share it. I’m happy to chat with people about these ideas to accelerate their growth, but I’d recommend getting them from the source and reading Dr. Kelly’s work directly. (Particularly her work with indigenous peoples of Australia, who helped to unlock a large piece of the puzzle for her.) Then let’s work together to rebuild the ancient edifices that our ancestors tried so desperately to hand down, but we’ve managed to completely forget.
The historical and archaeological record:
The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments by Dr. Lynne Kelly
A variety of methods and teaching examples:
Memory Craft: Improve Your Memory with the Most Powerful Methods in History by Dr. Lynne Kelly
Annotated on April 26, 2020 at 08:34PM
I imagine that there are potentially examples of this sort of behavior going back as far as 30-40,000 years or more, but there is is no direct (known) archaeological evidence left to make such cases. There are oral histories of indigenous peoples in Australia that indicate memories of things that do exist in the geological record to provide some evidence of this.
I’ll also point out that astronomical use is NOT equal to memory use. To make that claim you’d need a lot of additional evidence. In fact, I might suggest something stronger, particularly about Stonehenge. Stonehenge’s primary use was not an astronomical one. Its primary use was as a mnemonic device. The astronomical one was important for the ritual practice (we would call it spaced repetition in modern psychology and pedagogic contexts), but wholly tangential.
If you’re interested in the underlying evidence, Dr. Lynne Kelly has an excellent Ph.D. thesis on the topic, but you might find her book The Memory Code, which expands on the thesis, more accessible. She’s also got a great bibliography of these topics on her website.