Eerie, foreboding, mysterious and yet utterly familiar, the stone monuments at Stonehenge are part of the popular consciousness, and yet not much is known about them except that they predate recorded history.
Until now, that is.
An archeological research team from PBS’s science program Nova was recently granted unique access to a stone-circle monument little more than a mile from the famous site in Wiltshire, England.
This new site, discovered just over two years ago and dubbed Bluestonehenge – or just plain Bluehenge – has prompted a renewed wave of speculation and investigation, using the latest in high-tech gadgetry and breakthroughs in carbon-dating techniques.
Armchair archeologists will get a kick out of Nova’s findings, which are even more compelling, because they’re presented as dry, scientific history, with none of the hype, loud music or tacky dramatized recreations of most docureality TV shows.
The big questions – who built Stonehenge, why, and how on earth did they manage without engineering blueprints, heavy machinery and construction unions – remain elusive, but it’s hard not to share the researchers’ excitement and enthusiasm as they seem to draw ever closer to the answers. The discovery of traces of charcoal, for example, suggests that some kind of ritual fire or ceremonial burnings happened there – shades of The Wicker Man – and it’s fun to let one’s imagination wander, in the best tradition of folk tales.
Archeologists have since hypothesized that stones may have been removed from Bluehenge around 2500 BC and used to shore up Stonehenge itself, which is known to have undergone major restoration around that time. One theory holds that Bluehenge was a place of life, where the living gathered, and Stonehenge was the “domain of the dead,” and ancient Britain’s first known cemetery.
Whether Stonehenge was created by the ancient Celts or by the magician Merlin, or by space aliens of the Erich von Daniken variety, the ruins’ origin and purpose remain one of the most enduring mysteries facing humankind today.
More than a million people make a pilgrimage to Salisbury Plain every year, and hardly any of them know why. Perhaps it was the site of the original Burning Man. (what ?)
blog: http://www.canada.com/tv guy
Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website