Thursday, January 04, 2018


I got nuttin' today, so I'll post an answer I wrote to a question on Quora a few days ago. Someone had asked "What is the historical relevance of Stonehenge?" I thought it an interesting question, and, after a quick look at a couple of information pieces online said:

The historical relevance of Stonehenge, famous megalithic monument in Wiltshire, England, is its connection to the Neolithic age during which there was transition from the hunter gatherer lifestyle to farming. The gradual spread of agriculture to Europe, from the Near East led to great cultural change. Climate in Britain was not always helpful to early agricultural efforts, the seasons and their turning points would have taken on extra significance.

Stonehenge is aligned northeast-southwest, it has been speculated that its builders placed significance on the winter and summer solstices, and the equinox points. The monument was built so that at midsummer the sun rose close to its Heel Stone, the sun's rays directly hitting the monument's centre - this cannot have been accidental. Stonehenge was built, using enormous amounts of energy, over lengthy periods of time, as a kind of clock or calendar to accurately mark the turning of seasons and possibly, over time, of solar and lunar eclipses. No doubt also there was spiritual significance to the monument, with some form of worship involved - of the sun - or of other, now uncertain, gods. Any leader able to announce or predict the return of warmth, and the growing season would have had recognition and powerful influence.

So, in a nutshell, the historical relevance of Stonehenge is in allowing us a peek into the Neolithic world of our distant ancestors.

Two other posts of mine, from the archives might be of interest:
From 2011
Ley Lines and Stonehenge Apocalypse

Solstice at Stonehenge panorama via Stonehenge News and Information.


R J Adams said...

I have to admit to finding Stonehenge less than impressive on my last visit (about 2001, I think). I took the pre-Mrs RJ there as, like most Americans, it was a place she wanted to visit. It is, after all, just a bunch of old stones. It was raining at the time, which didn't help, and the "Visitor Center" left much to be desired, as did the steady drone of heavy vehicles along the nearby Amesbury Bypass. All-in-all I was definitely underwhelmed, although my companion seemed to find it interesting. It's hardly the Grand Canyon, after all. The first time I saw the place I was knee high to a grasshopper, so it probably appeared somewhat grander from my lower vantage point.
As for all this 'spiritual' business, why the so-called experts have to hook a religious label on all these old places is beyond me. Do they think the ancients had nothing better to do than stand around all day calling on the gods? Perhaps they just built it as a shelter from the British weather? Far more useful!

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ I suppose I should feel ashamed to admit that I've never actually visited Stonehenge! My maternal grandfather was born, and lived until late teenage in a Wiltshire village about 20 miles from Stonehenge.

I'm interested in its history and its mystery - how those stones were conveyed from their native ground, and put in place, back in the Neolithic age. It was a huge, huge undertaking, but they must have considered it worthwhile.

Humans seem to need something to worship - if there's nothing handy, they'll make something! ;-)

CherryPie said...

Stonehenge and the wider landscape is fascinating. The wider landscape includes Avebury and Silbury Hill.

A fascinating book that explores the astronomical alignments of Stonehenge and compares Stonehenge to a North American site that was familiar to him.

Some contemplations Avebury...

Some contemplations on Silbury Hill...

Hopefully the links will show that Stonehenge and the surrounding area are much more interesting than your commenters originally thought :-)