• Stonehenge Continues To Surprise

    by  • February 7, 2010 • Places, Standing Stones • 20 Comments

    A new survey of the Stonehenge landscape reveals the ancient monument once had two encircling hedges that may have been planted to keep secret whatever rituals took place among the stones.

    Archaeologist and Stonehenge expert Mike Pitts wonders if the hedges might have been to shelter the watchers from the power of the stones, as much as to ward off the observers’ “impious” gaze. The full story is revealed in British Archaeology magazine.

    A new study of the stones themselves, meanwhile, confirms that the majority of bluestones came from hundreds of miles away, in the Preseli Hills in West Wales. However, doubts still remain over the origin of the largest bluestone, the Altar Stone – its composition reveals it cannot be from the Preseli region.

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    20 Responses to Stonehenge Continues To Surprise

    1. Dawfydd
      February 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

      Always fascinating to learn new info about Stonehenge. I think when I was studying Archaeology we had Mike Pitt give a talk on some work he and some others had done on the ritual landscape of Stonehenge, and how movement & progression through that landscape proberbly formed a major part of any rituals.
      It was truly illuminating, and gave you a much better sense of the scale involved. Think big, think Avebury big….

    2. February 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      I’ve seen some of his recent work linking Stonehenge to Woodhenge, including a processional along the Avon. It does make you re-think the whole site.

    3. February 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm

      Having hedgerows would certainly enhance the old place. Yew would have been the obvious plant but, apart from its arils, it is poisonous to man and beast. Hawthorn, with its edible leaves and berries and blackthorn with its sloes would have been good choices, especially with the added assets of thorns. Would the plains have always been so? It seems such a stark vulnerable place. There is so little in the way of natural phenomena.
      Has anyone noted if animal life frequents the site or does it avoid it?

    4. Dawfydd
      February 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

      Plus it just becomes more, well, epic. Whilst I’ve always appreciated Stonehenge from a technical perspective, it always seems to dissapoint up close. Although that may just be due to the terrible way it’s presented to the public…

    5. February 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

      I would guess there’s been a great deal of tree clearance over the area, like much of Britain, but I couldn’t say for sure.

      For saying it’s a World Heritage Site, it really is a dismal place with those busy roads crisscrossing nearby.

    6. Dawfydd
      February 8, 2010 at 9:58 pm

      It’s the factor of the road coupled with (at least the alst time I was there) a horrendous fence and a path that only goes up one side then comes back :(
      Gutted that the plan to redirect the road and base the visitor centre in Amesbury so vistors walked the landscape got shelved….

      And the jist of the study was that much of the monumental landscape of Stonehenge (as with Avebury and a numebr of other landscapes from prehistory) is based on proscribed routes. Around Wiltshire-way that means lots & lots of hills, and monuments on those hills, that become more and less visible as you walk the routes. It raised some interesting questions for me about the control of these P.O.V.’s, especially in regards to the hill top enclsoure of Foel Trigarn in Pembrokeshire. It’s in a highly visible location, has oodles of evidence for large scale habitation, and in the central enclosure are three huge stone cairns. I noticed that from other important sites in the area that the ramparts, when complete, would have blocked pretty much all lines of site to the mounds…..

    7. Dawfydd
      February 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm

      And I can’t swear to this Clive, but if I remember correctly then during the time Stonehenge was being built & used a goodly percentage of the landscape was being cleared for farming.

      At least I think thats plausible…

    8. February 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

      I think I have to check out Foel Trigarn – not been to that one, but it sounds interesting. And I do spend a lot of time in Pembrokeshire.

      There’s a lot of great new research coming up about a lot of these sites. Many seem much larger than originally thought, and the processional, and views, seem to play a big part. I’m also interested in some of the work on acoustics and how many of these sites appear built to amplify sounds or music.

    9. Dawfydd
      February 9, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Foel Trigarn’s an interesting site. We visited it as part of field trip and it just struck a chord with me. It’s location just hit all of the right buttons for me, as somethign about it just says ‘mythic’. It probably has nothing like what I could imagine it possibly being, but if it gets you invested in a site…
      I wound up trying (and mostly failing) to base my dissertation on it, and how it differs from other Iron Age hill-top enclosures, but if nothing else I’m quite proud of the research I did into it.

      If you are interested in taking a look at it Mark, it’s almost on the border between Pembrokeshire & Carmarthenshire, and should be on most OS maps. You may find it listed with either Moel or Drygarn as spellings for the name instead. And I’ve still got all the research for the dissertation on my computer (somewhere), including the original report of the only (so far) archaeological excavation from the 1890’s…

    10. Dawfydd
      February 9, 2010 at 9:40 am

      And the acoustics sounds fascinating :)

    11. Georgie
      February 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm

      I’m pretty sure there’s talk of un-shelving the new visitor centre, as part of “sprucing” up the country for the Olympics… But maybe that’s just a rumour.
      I’m also pretty sure that Mike Parker Pearson is my hero. I’ve been reading some of the stuff about Woodhenge/Stonehenge, it certainly makes for some interesting reading.
      And Dawfydd, there is certainly a lot of research emerging, regarding ancient sites and how they would have interacted with the people and their movement through the landscape etc. Look at some of the stuff done by Chris Tilley and Sue Hamilton, and their work on the phenomenology of landscape.

    12. February 10, 2010 at 3:45 am

      Stonehenge is a real misnomer for me.Too basic and mundane a word coupling for conveying the real ancient meaning of this meeting ground for our ancestors and they deities;words too bleached of colour and drained of strength to encapsulate any vision of what this arcane temple once represented.Calvary hill,the bodhi tree,”Stonehenge” all voiceless victims of our brave new world`s million Gods that we genuflect and worship each moment on the alters of Technology.Give me a canopy of stars,stones of power thrust into the earth, herself.Sounds and sights the defy logic`s reason.Damp earth,bright Moon and stones clad in silver edged shadows.Stonehenge, today, is a wounded and deserted place,its dead substance tarted up and sold to demented, technology addicted souls.I once,in my youth,stole into its dormant sanctum at midnight.I fell into a deep well of sleep and walked with our fathers,long ago, in dreams of pulsating stones and deep rivers of energy.Now there, for me, was true power;hidden but not unseen, invisible but still felt in the bones of a man.It`s not what we see with our cameras electronic eyes,but what we feel in the pit of our stomachs.What we see without looking and feel without touch.
      I think we have lost our senses to machines and pixel screens.
      As here I write an obituary to the old ways, dressed in stones, in this flashing temple of our cyber-world`s toneless,lifeless medium of machine life. I miss the power of my youth.We miss the goddess who gave gave us birth.

    13. Dawfydd
      February 10, 2010 at 8:59 am

      Interesting, cheers for those names Georgie (and yes, MPP is quite awesome)

      And Geoff, wow man is all I can say :)

    14. February 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      But I don’t think it remains as unattainable as Geoff states. I find this when walking in particular woods or laying in particular fields in the summer/spring months, especially when everything is re-emerging. I can feel it throughout my body and relevant parts of my consciousness.
      However, at this time of year I seldom, if ever, do. This is when I feel as if we have been deserted.

    15. Geoff Rodley
      February 10, 2010 at 4:27 pm

      Thank you Dawyfdd.And clive is right.I laid it on too thickly.
      The lifeforce that grips Clive,that holds us all in thrall, is still potent and true.Forgive an old man his melancholy musing in the early hours of a day in the latter-days of his life.I miss it so,that power that preserves and waits to welcome us all home.

    16. February 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      I am seriously ill, Geoff, and I found the same inspiration in your last comment as I do in Mark’s writings and that is why I am to be found contributing to this highly thoughtful forum.

    17. February 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      Clive,may I be so bold as to make your well-being a part of the daily meditations and intentions I do? Nothing for you to buy,as I have nothing for sale.
      My spirituality centres around the following statement,my friend: “Matter,Energy,and thought:indivisible.
      Mark`s writing is in the forefront of the revolution in Quantum Physics merging with so called pagan beliefs to create a new way of thinking and experiencing the Universe.The world is changing,and the possibilities are endless………..Be well,Clive,Be well.

    18. Dawfydd
      February 10, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      Clive, as Geoff said all the best and whatever inspires you to strive on, then bravo sir.
      Clive, whilst I don’t personally believe (in, well, much to be honest) I cannot deny the inherrant power and presence in much of our historic landscape.
      A good friend of mine does believe though, and I always find his perspective a valuable and interesting one :)

    19. February 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      Geoff, Dawfydd, what a fine pair you are! Thank you very much.

    20. February 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm

      Right then guys:What is your favourite of Mark`s books and why.And also best loved characters, and maybe,a part of a story that you remember the best or that moved you the most………….Over to you amigos!

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