New research says that Stonehenge was built to unify the peoples of Britain
After 10 years of archaeological investigations, researchers have concluded that Stonehenge was built as a monument to unify the peoples of Britain, after a long period of conflict and regional difference between eastern and western Britain.
Its stones are thought to have symbolized the ancestors of different groups of the earliest farming communities in Britain, with some stones coming from southern England and others from west Wales.
The teams, from the universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Southampton, Bournemouth and University College London, all working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP), explored not just Stonehenge and its landscape but also the wider social and economic context of the monument’s main stages of construction around 3,000 BC and 2,500 BC.
“When Stonehenge was built”, said Professor Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, “there was a growing island-wide culture – the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast. This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries. Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labour of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everyone literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification.”
. . .All the architectural influences for Stonehenge can be found in previous monuments and buildings within Britain, with origins in Wales and Scotland.
Stonehenge may have been built in a place that already had special significance for prehistoric Britons. The SRP team have found that its solstice-aligned Avenue sits upon a series of natural landforms that, by chance, form an axis between the directions of midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset. . . .most of the monuments in the Stonehenge area are aligned on sunrise and sunset at midwinter rather than midsummer.
Stonehenge's building could certainly have unified people, and may have been built for that reason. There's no reason to doubt that Britain's people had other reasons for building Stonehenge, too. Healing and spiritual worship, which embody wholeness, could include people making peace and pulling together.
Thanks to Alistair McConnachie of A Force for Good for sending the news.