Stonehenge Treasures

The mysterious golden lozenge of Stonehenge

Almost everyone has heard of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England made up of huge megalithic stones arranged in a circular shape. But not many people know about the spectacular and mysterious golden lozenge which was found in the grave of a chieftain within the Stonehenge complex.  

In 1808, William Cunnington, one of Britain's earliest professional archaeologists, discovered what have become known as the crown jewels of the 'King of Stonehenge'. They were found within a large Bronze Age burial mound just ½ mile from Stonehenge, known today as Bush Barrow.

In a letter to archaeologist Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Cunnington wrote: "We found the skeleton of a stout and tall man. On approaching the breast of the skeleton we found immediately on the breast bone a fine plate of gold. This article in the form of a lozenge was fixed to a thin piece of wood, over the edges of which the gold was wrapped."  There was a large golden belt-hook lying by his waist, which was decorated with delicate impressed linear lines, as well as another smaller diamond shaped lozenge.

What makes this artifact so important and unique is its decoration made of impressed lines, which reveals an incredibly advanced knowledge of mathematics and geometry.  Detailed analysis of the design has shown both the shape and the decorative panels to have been created by repeating hexagons within a series of three concentric circles.  The precision and accuracy displayed by the work demonstrates both a sophisticated tool kit and a sound knowledge of geometric form.  David Dawson, director of Wiltshire Museum, describes the craftsmanship as "the work of the gods".

The golden lozenge was found within the Stonehenge Environs. Photo source: April Holloway

The purpose of the golden lozenge remains a mystery, although some believe it was an astronomical instrument.  The astronomer Gerald Hawkins devised a theory that Stonehenge itself was used as a huge astronomical structure that could accurately measure solar and lunar movements, as well as eclipses. Another researcher, Dr Derek Cunningham, proposes that the geometrical structure of the lines is a form of astronomical writing. This theory suggests that because the earliest astronomers did not have an alphabetical system to work with, they simply did the next best thing and that was to write down their astronomical values as angles. In this way, a 27.32 sidereal month would be drawn as a line at 27.32 degrees.

"The Bush Barrow Lozenge is clearly consistent with the pattern being an archaic form of writing, with the lines representing, through the use of angles, the astronomical values central to the measurement of time and the prediction of eclipses," said Dr Cunningham. 

The 19th century discovery of the Bush Barrow Lozenge highlights the fact that there are still many unanswered questions regarding this awe-inspiring and perplexing site of Stonehenge. 

By April Holloway


Justbod's picture

I had previously seen pictures of this, but not paid it much attention. I always thought it was a brooch, but reading up further on it, prompted by this article, I see it is 18 cm x 15 cm!

A beautiful piece of work!

Coincidentally I am currently reading 'Before The Pyramids' by Christopher Knight & Alan Butler, which is exploring the Thornborough Henges and the megalithic measurement system proposed by Alexander Thom. I had just today been thinking that if our ancestors did develop sophisticated astronomical measurement systems, then I'm sure that this would be reflected at some point by some sort of markings in wood, metal or stone, as these were some of their mediums.

Another beuatiful and mysterious piece of work by our forebears for us to wonder at and speculate over!

Sculptures, carvings & artwork inspired by a love of history & nature:




Not sure that the ancients used degrees on a 360 degree scale.. or had enough precision to measure an angle at 27.32... or that they measured degrees using decimals.. just sayin'

We are the ones measuring the angles at 27.32. Carpenters and woodworkers in other cultures use a "story stick," not a yard stick or ruler. These people have done the same thing. We would not expect them to have written their directions in English either, anymore than the author would have written his story in some ancient language that no one speaks.

Hi, just a quick response to that last message. I think you'll find the 360 degree system was invented by the ancients, certainly used by the Egyptians who saw 360 as a magic number as it has so many factors. Everything for the Egyptians (and I presume earlier civilisations from whom the Egyptians learned these things) was on factors of 12 and 30 - hence we have 12 months in year, 30 days to each month (though this was messed up over time to fit the reality of a 365 day year), 60 seconds in a minute etc etc. We've inherited that 360 emphasis in our own civilisation. You are quite right though that they didn't used decimals or a 10-based numerical system. I'd be fascinated to know what 27.32 looks like in their pre-decimal system.

This is exactly correct. Earth is intelligently designed on a base 12 numeric system and a 60 or 360 grid matrix, which defines our geographic location, time, standards weights & measures as well as distance which are all base 12 or 60. This guy explains everything, for the math gurus.


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