Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy

4 06 2018

Stonehenge is one of the most impressive and best known prehistoric stone monuments in the world.

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Ever since antiquarians’ accounts began to bring the site to wider attention in the 17th century, there has been endless speculation about its likely purpose and meaning, and a recurring theme has been its possible connections with astronomy and the skies. was it a Neolithic calendar? A solar temple? A lunar observatory? A calculating device for predicting eclipses? Or perhaps a combination of more than one of these? In recent years Stonehenge has become the very icon of ancient astronomy, featuring in nearly every discussion on the subject. And yet there are those who persist in believing that it actually had little or no connection with astronomy at all. A more informed picture has been obtained in recent years by combining evidence from archaeology and astronomy within the new interdiscipline of archaeoastronomy – the study of beliefs and practices concerning the sky in the past and the uses to which people’s knowledge of the skies were put. This leaflet attempts to summarize the evidence that the Stonehenge monument was constructed by communities with a clear interest in the sky above them.

This leaflet is one of a series produced by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). An electronic version is available for download at http://www.ras.org.uk.
To find out about modern astronomy in Britain see http://www.astronomy2009.co.uk

Download the PDF here

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