Editor’s note: Good news! The mystery of Stonehenge has been solved. No kidding, apparently it’s a cemetery. Always has been, too. Read more here in the SF Chronicle.
Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient monuments in the world, but what do we really know about it? Anyone intending to visit Stonehenge will be confronted by a huge amount of literature. How do you know where to begin?
You’re in luck. Thames & Hudson is about to release in May a new account of Stonehenge aimed at a wider audience than just the PhD archaeological community. It’s called Solving Stonehenge, by Anthony Johnson. Now I’m no archaeologist, but I think this book will generate a huge amount of discussion.
The author (a professional archaeological surveyor) spent fives years at his computer analyzing the earthwork and stone circles, sifting through myths, legends and misconceptions about Stonehenge.
Central to the book is a a carefully measured survey by John Wood, the architect of Bath, completed in 1740 before several of the stones fell; although largely overlooked by Stonehenge scholars, this remains the most important plan of Stonehenge ever made.
|Stonehenge Spoiler Alert: Everybody dies in the end
Locked within the symmetry of the stones and buried below ground lie the clues to the precise formulae which determined their numbers, spacing and relationships.
Stonehenge was not just the work of skilled engineers, nor primarily astronomical in its concept, but built to a premeditated design which was carefully planned and set out by prehistoric surveyors who had a sophisticated understanding of geometry, practical mathematics and symmetry.
So what does it all mean? I am no archaeologist, and I am no spoiler. The book reads a little like a detective novel, so I am not going to spoil the ending (everybody dies and the whole thing becomes a ruin).
Read it for yourself before taking a trip to Stonehenge.