Perhaps the most famous of all the standing stones in Britain, Stonehenge has confounded historians for centuries.
Experts date the beginnings of Stonehenge to about 3000BCE. Some think it was used for burials while others claim it was for early pagan worship. No one knows what the purpose of Stonehenge was or how the 25-ton stones got there. But there are some impressive theories out there with some of them getting pretty strange. Since I’m spending the day at the ancient archaeological site, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting theories out there:
Placed by Merlin
Of course, Merlin is responsible for Stonehenge! According to Geoffrey Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, King Aurelius Ambrosius asked the wizard where he should bury the kingdom’s dead princes. Merlin told the king to raise an army and collect the magical stones from Mount Killarus in Ireland. When the soldiers were unable to move the stones, Merlin helped with his own magical ways, successfully bringing them to Salisbury Plain. Years later, the story was changed and had Merlin command a giant to build the henge for him. The story was so famous, it was painted by Robert Wace in the 14th Century and is the oldest known depiction of Stonehenge (see image).
It may be a pseudoscience, but there’s no denying that ley lines seem to exist. Ley lines are global alignments of monuments, religious sites, and manmade structures that tend to have high spiritual levels. Stonehenge is included in the “Circle of Perpetual Choirs” along with Glastonbury (supposedly home to the Holy Grail).
Some researchers believe that Stonehenge was a place of healing with people traveling from afar to touch the stones. Burials surrounding the stones show evidence of trauma and deformities. This, along with an account from Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, about a temple of healing on an island in the far north has led many to think that Stonehenge was a place of pilgrimage.
Placed by the Romans
In 1655, John Webb declared Stonehenge to be the work of the Romans during their occupation from 43-410AD. He argued that the stones were ruins left over from a temple dedicated to Caelus. Of course, scientists have dated the stones to thousands of years ago and not hundreds, so the Merlin theory is looking a bit more legit.
Placed by the Druids
The first academic efforts to understand Stonehenge began in the 17th Century. John Aubrey (a pioneer archaeologist) was able to accurately study and draw the site. Through this, he was able to demonstrate the astronomical role Stonehenge played (it lines up with summer solstice sunrise and the winter solstice sunset). Many also believe that early pagan rituals were held here.
An Ancient Sound Studio?
With theories of rituals, aliens, and magic, this one somehow seems to be the strangest of them all. But according to recent studies, researchers are starting to think that Stonehenge’s circular shape created a sound illusion for early Brits. In 2012, Steven Waller reported at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that Stonehenge has incredible acoustics. Discoveries have shown us that the circle of stones would create reverberations similar to a cathedral or a modern-day concert hall. Could this support the idea that early pagans used it as a ceremony site? Or perhaps, the Romans did use it as a temple. The world may never know.
In 1968, Erich von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, and since then the alien theory has taken off (I’m sure you’ve seen it on the History Channel). This theory claims that ancient alien astronauts visited Earth, and early humans received them as gods. Von Däniken goes one step further and states that the aliens either built Stonehenge or offered early Brits the technology to do it themselves. Of course, they didn’t just visit Britain. These ancient alien astronauts are credited with also building the pyramids in Egypt at the Maoi of Easter Island. Of course, there’s absolutely no evidence that supports this, but don’t tell Giorgio A. Tsoukalos.
Which of these theories do you think is correct? Do you think we’ll ever learn the truth of Stonehenge? If Merlin was to get in a fight with ancient alien astronauts, who would win? Let me know in the comments below!
And just for fun (or to traumatize all of us), here’s a fun little throwback to the last time I was at Stonehenge. The year was 2002. I was 12 years old. I traveled with a fanny pack. I didn’t know how to dress myself (some would argue I still don’t). I also could not pose for a picture to save my life.
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