The Druids had nothing to do with the building of Stonehenge. This statement appears in a brand-new illustrated guide Stonehenge and Avebury and Neighbouring Monuments that is published (H.M.S.O., 3ss) by Professor RJC Atkinson, Professor of Archaeology at University College, Cardiff. He says that ever since it was first proposed 300 years ago that stone circles were temples of the Druids temples it has been generally supposed that Stonehenge was built and utilised by the Druids.
Regrettably there is no basis for this belief. The Druids were a Celtic priesthood who flourished in Britain only during the couple of centuries prior to the Roman Conquest. It is improbable that there were any Druids in these islands before 250 B.C. and by this time Stonehenge had been built for more than a thousand years and could already have been partly in ruins.
What Is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument that is found on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, 3 km west of Amesbury. It is made up of an outside ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each almost 4.0 m high, 2.1 m wide, and weighing around 25 tonnes, topped by linking horizontal lintel stones. Inside is a ring of smaller bluestones.
Inside these are free-standing trilithons, two larger vertical sarsens joined by one lintel. The entire monument, now in ruins, is oriented towards the sunrise on the summer solstice. The stones are set in earthworks within the centre of the densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age shrines in England, together with a couple of hundred tumuli (burial mounds).
What Was Stonehenge Used For?
If the facts around the architects and construction of Stonehenge are shadowy at best, the purpose of the eye-catching monument is even more of a mystery. While historians are in agreement that it was a place of great significance for over 1 000 years, we may never know what drew in early Britons to Salisbury Plain and motivated them to continue developing it.
There is very powerful archaeological evidence that Stonehenge was utilised as a burial site, at least for portion of its very long history, however most scholars believe that it serves other functions as well — either as a ceremonial location, a religious journey destination, a final resting place for royalty or – alternatively – a memorial which was erected to honour and possibly spiritually connect with far off ancestors. It probably wasn’t used for poker games, but these seem to have been enjoyed elsewhere as the game has been around for years.
In the 1960s, the astronomer Gerald Hawkins made the suggestion that the cluster of megalithic stones that are operated as an astronomical calendar, with various points that correspond to astrological phenomena such as solstices, equinoxes as well as eclipses. While his theory has attracted quite a lot of attention over the years, critics are of the opinion that Stonehenge’s builders probably lacked the knowledge needed to forecast such events or that England’s impenetrable cloud cover would have hidden their view of the skies.
Signs of sickness and injury in the human remains that were uncovered at Stonehenge directed a group of British archaeologists to hazard a guess that it was thought to be a place of healing, perhaps as bluestones were thought to have curative powers.