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New Research Refutes Long-Held Beliefs about Stonehenge


Excavations and research conducted by English Heritage has revealed controversial findings which question the long-held view that Stonehenge was built to record astronomical movements such as the summer and winter solstice.

Following the closure of the A344 road, which cuts across an earthwork route extending 1.5 miles from the north-eastern entrance to Stonehenge, archaeologists were able to excavate there for the first time.  They found that this route, known as ‘The Avenue’ was built along an ice age landform involving naturally occurring fissures that once lay between ridges, and this ridge “just happens” to align precisely with the solstice axis.

The implication of this, according to the researchers, is that the builders never intended to align the prehistoric site with the mid-winter sunset and mid-summer sunrise, but that they were simply taking advantage of natural ridges against which they could dig ditches to create the Avenue.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, a leading expert on Stonehenge, said: "It's hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they [prehistoric people] were so interested in the solstices. It's not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it's about how this place was special to prehistoric people.

"This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one. So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land,” said Pearson.

Dr Heather Sebire, English Heritage's Stonehenge curator said that the latest findings would prompt vigorous academic debate.  If the findings are confirmed it will certainly prove a disappointment to the thousands of druids and Stonehenge enthusiasts who make a pilgrimage to the site every solstice to worship the sun, as they believed the original builders once had.

By April Holloway



Peter Harrap's picture

These ideas about ley lines, lines of force, solar and lunar alignments etc date back in time only, so far as I am aware, to the "discovery" by the bourgeouis artists of the landscape as a subject matter for art in the 17th century. Painters painted fixed static sunrises and sunsets that were lined up best to favour their compositions, whereas if you are an ordinary person who just happens to live in the country, you experience it in quite another way, with your two eyes as you move and as the sun itself moves, or the moon, or the stars, though over a longer period.

WE countryfolk are not forever imagining spirit paths!!! since the whole point about being a spirit freed from the burden of a body is that you can move any which way (if you'll excuse the pun).

I contend that Claude, Lorrain and Turner etcetera are entirely to blame for the sanctification of any number of ancient sites and the absurd explanations that come down to us about alignments during the solstices that are very probably due to builders lining up their contructions to maximise light. If after all you have your entrance away from the sun in the winter when you need it to be able to see inside a tomb, you handicap yourself and bang your head on the walls etc in the dark- nothing mystic about it.

In the same way the alignment of the pyramids at Gizeh may not in fact echo Sirius, Clytemnestra or Pythagoras at all (I'm being ironic). The alignments can be simply cosmetic since a direct north/south alignment would lead to less interesting reflections and shadows, in a land without trees or water , but the interesting thing about them is that a 4 sided shiny pyramid provides a cross-shaped reflection at certain times of the day throughout the year, although this is only possibly visible from space.

I think that Stonehenge is a ruin, as Tintern abbey is a ruin. Roofless.That it was once a covered building like Northgrange is in Ireland, and that it was inhabited. IT may have been the local community centre of its day, or a church, or the palace of the local chief/king.

The very idea that you would go to all that trouble effort and expense and then leave your creation open to the elements is ridiculous at a time, and in a country where shelter from the weather, wild boar and wolves and possibly larger beasts is at a premium.


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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