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    Why Was Stonehenge Built?
    By News Staff | June 22nd 2012 12:08 PM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Stonehenge is interesting, though any mystical (or downright alien) symbolism is lost when you visit much larger sites, like Avebury Henge, that are clearly not mystical at all. Because of its fame, people have long sought answers as to why Stonehenge was built.

    A group of archaeologists now contend it was indeed symbolic - but not religious symbolism, it was more political.

    The Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) consortium has spent 10 years exploring Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape along with the social and economic conditions during the monument's main stages of construction (3,000 B.C. and 2,500 B.C.) and have concluded that Stonehenge was built as a monument to show the unity the peoples of Britain after a long period of conflict and regional difference between the eastern and western regions. Its stones are thought to have symbolized the ancestors of different groups of earliest farming communities in Britain, with some stones coming from southern England and others from west Wales.

    Bold, social ideas from ancient people, but we also got the Pyramids, the Silk Road and the epic Gilgamesh during that time, so it is entirely believable. Stonehenge may also have been built in a place that already had special significance for prehistoric Britons. The SRP team have found that its solstice-aligned Avenue sits upon a series of natural landforms that, by chance, form an axis between the directions of midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset.


    Stonehenge. No aliens found.  Credit: Wikipedia

    Although many people flocked to Stonehenge yesterday for the summer solstice, it seems that the winter solstice was the more significant time of the year when Stonehenge was built 5,000-4,500 years ago. 

    "When Stonehenge was built", said Professor Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, "there was a growing island-wide culture – the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast. This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries. Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labour of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everyone literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification.

    "When we stumbled across this extraordinary natural arrangement of the sun's path being marked in the land, we realized that prehistoric people selected this place to build Stonehenge because of its pre-ordained significance. This might explain why there are eight monuments in the Stonehenge area with solstitial alignments, a number unmatched anywhere else. Perhaps they saw this place as the centre of the world."

    Previous speculation suggested the great stone circle was used as a prehistoric observatory, a sun temple, a place of healing, and a temple of the ancient druids. The Stonehenge Riverside Project's researchers have rejected all these possibilities after the largest program of archaeological research ever mounted on the iconic monument. As well as finding houses and a large village near Stonehenge at Durrington Walls, they have also discovered the site of a former stone circle – Bluestonehenge – and revised the dating of Stonehenge itself. 

    They also firmly reject the idea that Stonehenge was inspired by ancient Egyptians or extra-terrestrials. Parker Pearson said, "All the architectural influences for Stonehenge can be found in previous monuments and buildings within Britain, with origins in Wales and Scotland. In fact, Britain's Neolithic people were isolated from the rest of Europe for centuries. Britain may have become unified but there was no interest in interacting with people across the Channel. Stonehenge appears to have been the last gasp of this Stone Age culture, which was isolated from Europe and from the new technologies of metal tools and the wheel."

    Comments

    the article has at least one error, after cursory review.

    The silk road is NOT as old as the pyramids or SH...

    seems to me the SHP is just playing nice...

    wiki silk road...

    Hank
    The Silk Road is 3,000 years old, not from 3,000 BC.  But silk is from 3,000 BC so it may be possible that silk was created and then not traded for 2,000 years - but unfathomable.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    No links provided here to confirm these supposed conclusions made by the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) then News Staff? If its anything like your 'Miracle of the Week, Daffodil Cure for Depression' blog then you could be seriously misrepresenting what the SRP have researched and even concluded.
    Stonehenge is interesting, though any mystical (or downright alien) symbolism is lost when you visit much larger sites, likeAvebury Henge, that are clearly not mystical at all. Because of its fame, people have long sought answers as to why Stonehenge was built.
    Visiting Avebury didn't cause me to lose any of the interest value regarding any of Stonehenge's possible mystical or alien symbolism at all, quite the opposite really.
    A group of archaeologists now contend it was indeed symbolic - but not religious symbolism, it was more political. The Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) consortium has spent 10 years exploring Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape along with the social and economic conditions during the monument's main stages of construction (3,000 B.C. and 2,500 B.C.) and have concluded that Stonehenge was built as a monument to show the unity the peoples of Britain after a long period of conflict and regional difference between the eastern and western regions. Its stones are thought to have symbolized the ancestors of different groups of earliest farming communities in Britain, with some stones coming from southern England and others from west Wales.
    OK, so where is your scientific evidence? What was the methodology used and where is their data?
    Stonehenge may also have been built in a place that already had special significance for prehistoric Britons. The SRP team have found that its solstice-aligned Avenue sits upon a series of natural landforms that, by chance, form an axis between the directions of midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset. Although many people flocked to Stonehenge yesterday for the summer solstice, it seems that the winter solstice was the more significant time of the year when Stonehenge was built 5,000-4,500 years ago. 
    The natural landforms solstice axis might be by chance but building and placing Stonehenge in that exact position obviously wasn't, the fact that the structure itself aligns with the suns rays on those solstice significant days also wasn't likely to be by chance. If it was where is your evidence? After all as you quoted Professor Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield saying "When we stumbled across this extraordinary natural arrangement of the sun's path being marked in the land, we realized that prehistoric people selected this place to build Stonehenge because of its pre-ordained significance. This might explain why there are eight monuments in the Stonehenge area with solstitial alignments, a number unmatched anywhere else. Perhaps they saw this place as the centre of the world."
    Previous speculation suggested the great stone circle was used as a prehistoric observatory, a sun temple, a place of healing, and a temple of the ancient druids. The Stonehenge Riverside Project's researchers have rejected all these possibilities after the largest program of archaeological research ever mounted on the iconic monument. As well as finding houses and a large village near Stonehenge at Durrington Walls, they have also discovered the site of a former stone circle – Bluestonehenge – and revised the dating of Stonehenge itself. 
    How does finding some houses and the site of a former stone circle somehow prove that Stonehenge was never used as a prehistoric observatory, a sun temple. a place of healing and a temple of the ancient Druids and what made them revise the dating of Stonehenge itself? This is a science site for Druid's sake, give us some scientific evidence please!
    They also firmly reject the idea that Stonehenge was inspired by ancient Egyptians or extra-terrestrials. Parker Pearson said, "All the architectural influences for Stonehenge can be found in previous monuments and buildings within Britain, with origins in Wales and Scotland. In fact, Britain's Neolithic people were isolated from the rest of Europe for centuries. 
    All the architectural influences can be found in previous monuments and buildings within Britain? Are you saying that there are many round houses and stone circles made from very large rocks from many different distant locations placed in a solstice significant circle somewhere else? If so, where and so what? How does that disprove anything to do with ancient Egyptians or even extra-terrestrials?
    Britain may have become unified but there was no interest in interacting with people across the Channel. Stonehenge appears to have been the last gasp of this Stone Age culture, which was isolated from Europe and from the new technologies of metal tools and the wheel. 
    What, you don't think these Brits used the wheel to transport these massive rocks from far flung places? Well in that case how the hell did they do it? This article is very unscientific, please provide some links to scientific evidence to validate these unsubstantiated claims.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    I see this story is making the newswires as if this is the definitive explanation of Stonehenge.

    Many news publications are using provocative titles like "After 10 Years of Research Archaeologists Solve The Mystery of Stonehenge" They all appear to be from a single press release with no additional source material.

    Where is the scientific evidence to back up this new THEORY?

    Let's not forget that in 2008, Parker-Person contended that Stonehenge was a ceremonial burial ground. Check out his appearance in NG's show: Stonehenge Uncovered. If he was wrong then what makes this theory any more definitive than earlier ones?

    Finally, I find it interesting that this story happens to correspond with the release of his new book....Coincidence?

    Where are the scientific details? Where is the link to a peer-reviewed scientific report? What is the source of this article?

    Hank
    You're right about the book but that doesn't make the work suspect, it should stand or fall on its own merits.  What field would you accept as authoritative, since archeology doesn't seem to strike you as legitimate?  Anthropology is made up so that can't really be conclusive.

    You can certainly believe one National Geographic special over another - they try to carry science and then they have shows on UFOs because they are selling eyeballs to advertisers - but why would you choose to believe one hypothesis over another?  Is it the secularization that bugs you?
    Interesting... whatever happened to the missing stones?