Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stonehenge -- new facts

Since I am co-author with Cambridge don Caroline Malone on a Oxford U Press book for young people called Stonehenge (available from Amazon), I like to include new facts since we wrote the book a few years ago. I find the following quite fascinating:

A 20ft-high palisade hid Stonehenge 5,000 years ago

Tourists who complain about the fence put up around Stonehenge in the Seventies should spare a thought for their Neolithic ancestors... they couldn't even see the site because of a huge wooden barrier.

Archaeologists have found traces of the 20ft-high timber fence that snaked almost two miles across Salisbury Plain and hid sacred ceremonies from unworthy locals more than 5,000 years ago. Now trenches have been dug along the line researchers believe the palisade took as it stretched from the east of the ancient stone circle, past the Heel Stone, to the west before heading south.

Experts believe that the time and energy taken to construct such a barrier, which has no other practical or defensive use, meant that it was designed to hide religious ceremonies from prying eyes. Dr Josh Pollard, of Bristol University, who is co-director of the dig, said: "The construction must have taken a lot of manpower. The palisade is an open structure which would not have been defensive and was too high to be practical for controlling livestock. It certainly wasn't for
hunting herded animals and so, like everything else in this ceremonial landscape, we have to believe it must have had a religious significance. The most plausible explanation is that it was built at huge cost to the community to screen the environs of Stonehenge from view. Basically, we think it was to keep the lower classes from seeing what exactly their rulers and the priestly class were doing."

Source: Daily Mail (30 August 2008)
http://tinyurl.com/6oxcos

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