Myths and legends about Stonehenge

Myths and legends about Stonehenge

The new archaeological discovery associated with Stonehenge is an opportunity to retrace the best known legends on the Neolithic site

Neopagans in Stonehenge during the winter solstice (Photo by Matt Cardy / Getty Image) Near Stonehenge it was just found another series of Neolithic constructions. A series of deep pits that form a ring of 2 kilometers in diameter. Invisible to the naked eye after millennia, the ring has been tracked down with various remote sensing techniques. The research, published on Internet Archeology, went online on June 21, and is probably not a coincidence. The Stonehenge complex is in fact aligned to look at the sunrise on the one hand at the summer solstice; from the opposite one his sunset during the winter one. The pits, which surround the Neolithic site of Durrington Walls, have yet to be studied with excavations. A speculation by the authors is that, given the monumental staircase (each pit is 5 meters deep and 10 meters wide) it could be a cosmological declaration that the builders wanted to engrave in the earth.

Currently no one can know, however, at what was needed. This type of scientific mystery is sometimes filled with a good dose of fantasy, as indeed happened with Stonehenge.

The Druids

If you grew up in the 90s, perhaps you have read the children's book series The Young Indiana Jones. And maybe you read William McCay's The Circle of Death from that series. The writer of the book only remembers that there was talk of Stonehenge and that the Druids had to do with it. The same association is present in many fiction products, but it is not immediate to interpret it as the archaeological legend that it actually is.

The druids were a priestly class among the Celts used to build many of the functions, then why should it not have to do with the megaliths of Stonehenge, for which it is reasonable to assume a religious function ? And in fact this was the proposal of two gentlemen of the ‘700 , John Aubrey and William Stukeley, that among the first to study the site.

Here things get complicated, as he explained in an article in 1954, the famous archaeologist Stuart Piggot . The historical sources about the druids are rather scarce and, above all, they talked about the works of ancient greeks and romans. Rome has also been the cause of their decline. If we are to believe Caesar and other authors), they practiced human sacrifices : Rome could be tolerant of the religions of others, but up to a certain point.

When Aubrey worked on Stonehenge, no one knew how deep the prehistoric times. At most you could say that the complex was pre-Roman. The druids seemed to be a hypothesis that is compatible, in the absence of anything better. Shekeley, however, went further, and began to lead arbitrarily to druids not only Stonehenge, but also to other monuments of neolithic and Bronze age. At the same time, the druids were reinvented and mitizzati from the Romance . Later, it was neo-paganism, which he appropriated these druids from literature.

was Born on druidism and modern, very different from the historical (of which we know little) and the new druids began to perform their rites at Stonehenge. The association between the druids and Stonehenge has remained so imprinted in the public at large , in spite of the progress of archaeological sciences. These have determined that certainly Stonehenge is far older: the Celts were not there when it was built . Certainly they had to know it was there, but there is archaeological evidence that they have used.

Stonehenge and Merlin

rates pseudostorici are not exactly a novelty. History of the Kings of Britain , written by Geoffredo of Monmouth in 1136, is an example. Despite the title, contains very few facts. Today it is considered a literary work, built by fusing and reinventing other sources, not historical. Perhaps it is a bit far-fetched to say that the author was Erich von Daniken of his time, but we understood each other.

Among the many legends legendary figures appears also Merlin , and we would have him behind what, for us, is Stonehenge . King Ambrosio Aureliano asked for a place to bury its principles fallen. Merlin said to carry magical stones from a mountain in Ireland. But the army sent by the King, cannot be lifted: it will be necessary the intervention of the magician.

Today do not need to be historians to understand that it is a legend, but the History of the Kings of Britain was for centuries considered to be a trusted source, not fiction . It took time and because historians and archaeologists are download it of the baggage is legendary that weighs over Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is a fake

we Enter into the territory of fake news. In 2001, Brian Edwards, phd student, Bristol, told the newspaper that she found the photos of the restoration of Stonehenge, that occurred in particular between 1901 and 1964. For Edwards, who is now in charge of public history , this aspect of Stonehenge had not been adequately communicated to the public. Nothing secret of course, but it was not doing enough to explain that the site has been modified over time. And in time changed the best practices for restoration: many choices today may be seen as old-fashioned.

The question raised by Edwards is serious: the public who visit the famous site should also know about this part of the story, without having to bury in the archives as a historian. Instead, at the time not even the official guide was out of the question.

But then came the clickbait . Why waste time with the important question raised by the student, when you can simply write “Stonehenge is false” or “Stonehenge was built in 1954” or “The photo of Stonehenge that you will not want to show” ? From 2001 to today, some of these contents become viral. Many cite yet Edwards, as if it were a breaking news story yesterday, but the most daring suggest that Stonehenge is the equivalent of the archaeological fake landing on the Moon.

Stonehenge and aliens

Stonehenge is a site dated to the late neolithic, and the construction has started 5000 years ago. The megaliths are huge, measuring more than 7 metres, and the rocks have been transported for tens of kilometers. All to build something whose function can never be established with certainty, but that definitely has something to do with the observation of the sky .

it Is natural, therefore, that like the pyramids , or Easter Island , also Stonehenge is suffering from what we might call the syndrome of Von Daniken : some think that they were aliens to build it. In reality, Erich Von Daniken , a prolific author of the ’70s, he has not invented anything. The myth of the ancient astronauts, in fact, dates back at least to the NINETEENTH century. But for the program pseudoarcheologico Puzzles aliens is probable that you should especially thank him.

it is Not immediate to understand the success of these theories, even a little bit racist , according to which our ancestors had need of the’ grey man to evolve. Probably, suggests a profile in the New York Times in 1974 , part of the secret of Von Daniken is to have relied on spirituality . To suggest that the gods exist, why are the extraterrestrials, it will also be naive, but we should not wonder if it is the socket. And then, Stargate was not bad...

Especially to those who believe that it is really a alien monument, it is worth noting that it is currently threatened by the planned construction of a highway tunnel that would pass under the site. With the new discovery was called into question by archaeologists, who have never liked the idea. Who knows what he could write on Douglas Adams .

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