Stonehenge Myths: Aliens

20 10 2020

One of the more out-of-this-world theories that coalesce around Stonehenge is that it was built by aliens, or is in some way connected with extra-terrestrial intelligence. 

Does this look like an alien ship? ‘Flying saucer’ UFO is captured hovering over Stonehenge, claim conspiracy theorists

Although easy for most of a critical persuasion to dismiss or even to scoff at as an example of the credulity of some people on a par with the Flat Earth Society, the association is worthy of discussion for the very fact it exists as one star in a whole constellation of theories which the world-famous site has attracted. The alien theory has arisen through a combination of factors:

  • The paucity of written records about the purpose of Stonehenge, originating as it did in 3 phases over a 1500 year period from 3100-1600 BCE in the Neolithic.
  • The association of monoliths and stone circles with extra-terrestrial life in popular culture (e.g. Captain Kirk and co. leaping through a supersized Men-an-Tol in the 1967 Star Trek episode, ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’;  the mysterious monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s film of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which turns out to be a galactic portal; the stone circle of ‘Milbury’ – filmed in and based on Stonehenge’s sister site of Avebury – in the 70s childrens’ classic TV serial, Children of the Stones, which turns out to be conduit for sinister alien intelligences from beyond a black hole).
  • The ‘ancient astronaut’ theory perpetuated by Eric Von Daniken in his 1968 cult classic book, Chariot of the Gods, and by ‘alternative history’ authors such as Graham Hancock since. In a nutshell, Von Daniken’s hypothesis is based upon misinterpretations of Mayan iconography, and selective ‘mysterious’ landmarks around the world (e.g. Nazca lines) in a classic example of confirmation bias.
The phenomenon of strange lights witnessed at Stonehenge and ancient sites

Augmenting this already potent stew we have also factor in the historical fact that Salisbury Plain has had over a century of early, experimental aviation – with some of the first test flights taking place (sometimes with catastrophic consequences, as the memorial to two tragically killed early airmen by the Stonehenge Visitor Centre attest). A squadron of the embryonic Royal Air Force, the Royal Flying Corps, was based close to Stonehenge – indeed so close, that at one point the pulling down of the iconic stones was proposed because they were considered a flying hazard to the low-flying, low-powered aircraft. Much of Salisbury Plain is owned by the Ministry of Defence. It is crisscrossed by a network of tank tracks, and sections of it are still occasionally closed off for firing practice. Not far from Stonehenge is Porton Down, home of a biological testing centre. The deserted village of Imber, evacuated by the MOD for use in preparation for D-Day, became an Urban Warfare Unit – access is allowed only once a year for a special service in the church, but the villagers were never allowed back. So it is not surprising that with covert military operations, ghost villages, and frequent reports of unexplained lights in the sky, that the area around Stonehenge is in effect a British ‘Area 51’.

‘UFO’ snapped hovering over Stonehenge being probed by alien investigators

 The phenomenon of strange lights witnessed at ancient sites – stone circles in particular – is well-documented by the likes of Paul Deveraux, who suggests that these ‘earthlights’ are a result of geomagnetic pressures which the stone monuments of the ancient were expressly designed to somehow channel. Anyone who has photographed such places only to find their shots populated by distinctive orbs would no doubt agree that there is something there. It is tempting to think that these lights may have at one time been the cause of cautionary folklore and folk tales about the so-called ‘little people’ commonly believed to be connected with such liminal places, and with a shift into the technological paradigm of the 20th Century, these were reframed as ‘little green men’ instead, especially after the Post-War advent of Atomic testing and explosion in UFO sightings in the heights of the Cold War paranoia. When one surveys the Stonehenge landscape and beholds ‘saucer’ barrows and enigmatic lines in the land (e.g. the 1.9 mile long Cursus) it is all too easy to get carried away. It is perhaps no coincidence that the heavy usage of psychedelics at Stonehenge, especially during the dozen years of the Stonehenge Free Festival, has helped sear into the consciousness of many a stoned pilgrim the possibility of an alien presence or even purpose behind the immemorial monument.  For these the sarsens became interstellar portals and like a lysergically-influenced astronaut, it would be easy to exclaim with some earnestness: ‘My God, it’s full of stars.’

Whatever the various factors which have led to the myth that ‘aliens built Stonehenge’, or that it is some kind of star gate, and however fanciful such notions might seem, we cannot rule out entirely the possibility the existence of extra-terrestrial life – for in an infinite universe all things are possible. To lockdown the numinous, the magical, and the mysterious with a reductive empiricism is missing the point of such sites – which were surely designed with some wish to instil awe and wonder into their beholders. Nothing that took 1500 years to build is going to be purely practical. It was an act of faith over several generations. And, as Shakespeare said: ‘They are more things in Heaven and Earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

GUEST BLOGGER: Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and more. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of Wiltshire, where he lives with his archaeologist partner.  

*7 Ancient Sites Some People Think Were Built by Aliens – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
*’UFO’ snapped hovering over Stonehenge being probed by alien investigators – THE EXPRESS
*Weird Wiltshire Day Trip. U.K Crop Circle Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
*Giant crop circle appears in field next to Stonehenge just before Summer Solstice – SOMERSET LIVE
*Black ‘flying saucer’ UFO is pictured hovering over Stonehenge – THE METRO
*Has UK’s biggest mass UFO sighting case finally been solved? – THE EXPRESS
*Ancient Aliens: The Purpose of Stonehenge – HISTORY.COM
*Stonehenge was ‘alien construction site’ or eerie ‘ancient burial ground’ – most bizarre conspiracy theories revealed – THE SUN
*UFO over Stonehenge? U.K. releases trove of X-files – CBS NEWS
The Mystery of Stonehenge, Ancient Petroglyphs and Crop Circles – ANCIENT ORIGINS

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News

%d bloggers like this: