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The famous Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire, England, as imagined in a 1:50 scale model made by landscape architect Sarah Ewbanks.

Architect presents radical new theory that Stonehenge was a two-storey, wooden feasting and performance hall

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Could the prehistoric Stonehenge megaliths once have been the support for a wooden, two-storey roundhouse, a venue for feasting, speakers and musicians? That’s the theory of an English landscape architect who designed a small model of what she has in mind and is looking for money to build a 1:10 scale model of the structure.

Sarah Ewbank says the fact she is not an archaeologist has freed her from preconceived notions and allowed her to approach the matter in a fresh way.

Ms Ewbank told Ancient Origins via email about her vision of Stonehenge:

“I believe Stonehenge was a Bronze-age venue, a large oval hall encircled and overlooked by galleries. Interestingly the upper level was tiered, the height of different sections reflecting the different height trilithons.  Consider both hall and galleries filled, listening to a speaker, or maybe there was feasting on the galleries with dancing below, perhaps crowds gathered to listen to singing or musicians playing, or maybe ceremonies took place to welcome in the solstices. It all sounds rather splendid and certainly needed – there were no electronic gadgets then!

 

 

My view – such a splendid building deserved to be used often – so, much as the Albert Hall in London serves to accommodate every type of gathering, so I believe our Bronze-age ancestors used Stonehenge whenever such a venue was required. Our bronze-age ancestors were intelligent people with needs similar to ours today. Forget the furry loin cloth and ritual sacrifice stuff - it's wrong.”

She said she’s discussed her theories with other experts. Some of them agree with her interpretation of the building’s use, but others strongly disagree and argue for the traditional view.

The way the monument looks today.

The way the monument looks today .  Howard Ignatius/ Flickr

Ms. Ewbank speculates that the sides of the house were made of oak and the roof of thatching. Of course, it is highly unlikely wood or straw would survive the thousands of years of Stonehenge’s existence, so finding physical evidence for her theory—other than the layout of the stones themselves—is next to impossible.

In fact, she says on her website people have asked her if there is evidence of a roof. She points out that 500-year-old abbeys have roofs missing. “So don’t expect to find the timber structure lying around after 4,000 years,” she said.

“When you look at it the whole thing it fits absolutely perfectly,” she’s quoted as saying in SalisburyJournal. “I haven’t had to push one stone out of place. I have just taken all the standing stones and it all fits.”

Ms. Ewbank’s model without the roofing

Ms. Ewbank’s model without the roofing ( Photo copyright Sarah Ewbank )

She lists several reasons on her website for theorizing the monument was a roundhouse, including:

  • One of the stones is called the “lintel stone,” apparently for an important reason.
  • The blue-stones have grooves in them for structural purpose.
  • The trilithons are spaced just right to support four large trusses. The height difference between the trilithons allowed raising of the trusses.

Ms. Ewbanks writes on her blog:

To form the large trusses, only eight 15-baunt (16-metre) oak timbers with angled profile are required. Bronze-age oaks were very likely bigger and better than those available today. Apparently ship-building in past-times robbed the UK of the good-sized oaks! Before discounting this idea ask yourself, ‘If Bronze-age people are capable of quarrying, moving and shaping stones that weigh 20 to 50 tonnes, can they fell and oak and shape the timber to form a roof?’ The answer can only be yes.

She told SalisburyJournal:

“Archaeologists are very obsessed with dating and the meaning of it. I looked at it and thought it was a ruin, and that with my design skills I could work out what was there. In our climate back in the Bronze Age it still rained, and why would you move 75 large stones just so you could dance around twice a year? If you put a roof on it you can use it all year.”

And those ancient people apparently moved those stones quite a distance. Archaeologists announced in December 2015 that they found the exact holes in a rocky outcrop in Wales from where the bluestones found at Stonehenge originated, revealing that they were quarried 500 years before they were assembled into the famous stone circle that still stands today in Wiltshire, England. The dramatic discovery suggests that some of the stones making up the ancient monument was first erected as a structure in Wales and later dismantled, transported, and reassembled over 140 miles away in Salisbury Plain.

Computer rendering of the overall site of Stonehenge and surrounds.

Computer rendering of the overall site of Stonehenge and surrounds. Public Domain

The Guardian reports that the finding was made during a project run by the University College London (UCL), in cooperation with the universities of Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton, among others, to investigate quarries in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

It has long been known that the bluestones – a term used in a loose sense to cover all of the ‘foreign’ stones which are not native to Salisbury Plain – originated in southwest Wales. Their name actually refers to the spotted dolerite, an igneous rock that looks blue when broken and is spotted with small pellets of feldspar and other minerals that got into the molten matrix when the rocks were forming geological ages ago. Nearly a century ago, in 1923, the eminent petrographer, Herbert Thomas, was able to identify their source as the Preseli hills .

Another scholar, Julian Spalding, theorized recently that the Stonehenge we know today may have been merely the support for a series of elevated wooden platforms. These platforms could have been used for spiritual ceremonies, elevating religious leaders off the ground - bringing humans closer to the heavens and the gods.

Art critic, historian and former curator Spalding said to The Guardian : “In early times, no spiritual ceremonies would have been performed on the ground. The Pharaoh of Egypt and the Emperor of China were always carried – as the Pope used to be. The feet of holy people were not allowed to touch the ground. We’ve been looking at Stonehenge from a modern, earth-bound perspective.”

No physical evidence has been found to back up the historian’s claim.

The exact purpose of Stonehenge is not known, but some researchers believe it was built as an ancient calendar to mark seasons and the movements of the sun and moon. Others say it was a place of healing, or dying, or perhaps a place of worship.

Featured Image:  The famous Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire, England, as imagined in a 1:50 scale model made by landscape architect Sarah Ewbanks. ( Image copyrighted by Sarah Ewbanks )

By Mark Miller

Comments

Barry Sears's picture

As above so below, our ancient ones plotted the connection to the Celestial creative energies. By dividing the World into 12 zones around the equator a connection is made to the 12 zones around the night sky. By observing the 12 zones around the Earth the creative energies around the zodiac are interpreted. Our ancient ones discovered the World changed to the pattern of the body and unique animals existed in different regions of the World expressing body parts. The World was explored and unique characteristics were recorded from each zone of the World which related to the full body of the World and the full body of the Celestial sky. From this zone the crab or Dorset crab was a distinctive regional animal that expressed the breast region. 
Stonehenge marks the zone of Cancer as part of the World anatomy as communicated through the ancient civilisations global community. The World was united as a complete body. The next zone of the World anatomy is Leo and this correlates to the Sphinx. The next is Virgo and Israel marks the zone of Virgo through Mr Christ and the Virgin Mary. The scales Buddha.......
 

I heard the Stones played there ,once.

You are missing the point - the new article and construction was done by someone who is NOT an "archaeologist-trying-to-be-an-architect" but by a "freelance landscape consultant/garden designer, with degrees in Landscape Design and Horticulture" - therefore she comes at the issue with an entirely different perspective - and we all know that the problem with every field is that they cannot see 'the wood for the trees' !! EVERY expert has professional pride in his own field and generally resents anyone of another profession daring to conceive a radical new idea - this designer saw something that the archaeologists still were not seeing - she looked at the stones and saw the inner structure the other guy was not considering - his drawings only include the concept of the outer-outer ring of stones having roofing. I love her idea and see this as a new way to consider the site's use. Nothing wrong with this at all - what makes me laugh is the reaction of the 'experts' - so predictable - "no WE are the experts - mind your own business - we know what the truth is" - NO you are being proved wrong on every front - Archaeology is being determined by the free thinkers who come at the subject with an open mind ! The single biggest problem for Archaeology is the long-standing notion of ancient humans being sub-human dolts - we are seeing this demolished on every front and out history goes way further back than the professional crowd ever gave thought to - yippee !!!!

Not a new theory at all. Geoff Carter has had that theory on his blog Theoretical Structural Archaeology for some time and has the engineering studies to prove it.

Colin Berry's picture

 

Reminder: Stonehenge is just one of literally hundreds of Neolithic/Bronze age stone circles – it just happens to be the grandest. That grandeur can all to easily distract from the basic underlying purpose, performed elsewhere  on a more modest scale. The basics: a circle of standing stones (bird perches), a central “altar” – the “bird table” and a nearby tomb/mound/tumulus/barrow etc for interment of the bones, with or without final cremation.

 

Often those smaller stone circles are in places where one would not expect to find a temple, complete with ceremonies or rituals as per received wisdom (or sheer fantasy)  like hilltops, boggy ground etc. So one needs to seek a utilitarian function before considering all those fancy torchlit pagan rituals etc.

 

There was in fact just such a humble scaled-down version of Stonehenge just a couple of miles away near Durrington Walls. It was the subject of several articles in the media, e.g. this one from the Mail.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2750005/The-hidden-empire...

 

See also my posting back in April for a severe critique.

 

http://colinb-sciencebuzz.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/stonehenge-can-be-thoug...

 

 

Note the mixed message in those press releases – that it was a site for “grisly” or “gruesome” “excarnation”, i.e. defleshing, based on the human remains, but no mention of birds and sky burial, because it was (wait for it) , the long barrow was assumed to have a roof based on all those “timber uprights”. However, look closely at the evidence for a roof, and it’s a total nonsense. The poles weren’t just around the edge of the central floor area but were crowded in towards the centre. Who wants to keep bumping into poles when visiting a “House of the Dead” (at least they got the “dead” bit right). At least they got the “defleshing “ bit right. And there’s plenty of evidence for that elsewhere, e.g La Varde on Guernsey (passage grave, cremated AND excarnated bones with nearby stone circle).

Conclusion, as per Stonehenge: there was no roof, it was open to the sky (for sky burial). Who needs massive sarsen megaliths with cross piece to support a thatch roof anyway! I say the lintels were there as superior bird perches, and expect with time to convince folk that was the true purpose.

 

 

Will future archaeologists be assuming that the venue of the present French Open Tennis Tournament in Paris was roofed over, assuming there must surely have been a timber roof  to protect players and spectators from rain that has since rotted away?

ColinB

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