Stonehenge – more than a ring of stones.

16 04 2017

Toni-maree Rowe - Writer

Stonehenge – a name that evokes a great many emotions in a great many people.  For some it is a place of pilgrimage, a place to connect with the ancestors and for others it is seen as a tourist trap or something to tick off the bucket list.  For centuries it has captured our imagination; never has a heritage site been so controversial – something which continues to this day.  In this post it is not my intention to give a full on thesis about Stonehenge, there are plenty of books/websites who do this already.  Instead it is simply an overview of what is currently understood about the site, its surrounding landscape and my own personal thoughts.

Stonehenge is situated on the Salisbury Plains, to the south is the busy A303, a main road between the south-west and London, and for many years the equally busy A344 ran alongside the site. …

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BREAKING NEWS: Geophysical survey reveals secret chambers and corridors underneath Stonehenge.

1 04 2017

Most people are unaware of the underground chamber that lies beneath Stonehenge.

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The six entrances to it are clearly visible in the recent geophysical survey, arranged as a squashed hexagon with linking corridors between them, leading to the antechamber located below the North Barrow and the main room directly below the stone circle.

Col. William Hawley’s excavations of 1926 revealed the existence of the entrances and corridors, but he didn’t investigate further as he was already in his mid-70s and had been abandoned by the workers assigned to assist him.

The records of this discovery existed only in Hawley’s personal notebooks, which lay unexamined until the mid 1950s.

In 1958, under the pretext of re-erecting a collapsed Trilithon, Richard Atkinson’s team made extensive excavations in the centre of the circle in an attempt to break through to the main room after the route via the antechamber was discovered to be blocked by a massive sarsen stone.

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While the waiting crowd’s interest was held by the struggle to put back up two massive uprights and a correspondingly huge lintel, the real work in the centre circle continued for 4 months and 1 day.

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Very few photographs exist of what was found once the chalk capping of the main chamber had been breached, but Atkinson’s archive was badly catalogued so it has been difficult to attribute photos to positions with any kind of accuracy.

A particularly tantalising, but unlabelled, photo has emerged.

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Atkinson never published what he found, in fact his only report of the extensive 1950s excavations and restorations were two popular books – one called “Stonehenge”, and the other called “What is Stonehenge? A Guide for Young People”.

Towards the end of the project the decision was taken to fill the main room, antechamber and access corridors with concrete to prevent the collapse of the monument above.

Was this a cover up?

As far as the world’s press and the public were concerned, the project had been a huge success – a Trilithon that had collapsed in 1797 had been restored along with stones from the outer circle that had fallen on the last day of 1900. Publicity photos showed Stonehenge “restored” to something approaching its former glory.

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Occasionally an photograph appears on eBay claiming to be from the archive of Atkinson’s benefactor Sir “Polo” Divans, the likely recipient of any finds from the main chamber. This is one of a peculiar object from his collection.

Occasionally an photograph appears on eBay claiming to be from the archive of Atkinson’s benefactor Sir “Polo” Divans, the likely recipient of any finds from the main chamber. This is one of a peculiar object from his collection.

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The six entrances were left unsealed but capped with metal covers at ground level – these can easily be found in the grass – and once a year there is a stress test of the concrete infill to ensure no subsidence or cracking has occurred. This is achieved by pumping chemical smoke in at one entrance and checking for leaks at each of the other five.

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Bizarrely, there was a Doctor Who episode filmed at Stonehenge in 2010 entitled “The Pandorica Opens” that used the idea of an “Underhenge” beneath the monument.

Perhaps someone on the production or writing team had some inside knowledge of what really lies beneath. The rest of us will never know for sure.

Thanks to local historian Simon Banton for sharing this ground breaking story

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