Stonehenge is one of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries, and one of its most fascinating sites. This collection of colossal stacked stones is a testimony to the human spirit: whatever they meant Stonehenge to be, the creators of it must have really wanted it, to go to all that trouble.
Stonehenge mystery solved?
One of the most popular theories has long been the idea that Stonehenge is a kind of astronomical clock or calendar. This is partly due to the site's location, in an area which nicely silhouettes both the sunrise of midsummer and the sunset of midwinter. But a new team of researchers says that this was not meant as a literal tool of the seasons, but as an artistic paean to the unification of Stone Age Great Britain.
Five British universities contributed a crack team of archaeologists to solve the mystery of Stonehenge. After thousands of hours of research, putting the monument in its historical context, the team has decided that Stonehenge was meant as a monument to unite the various peoples of England. A symbol, in other words, of the cultural unity which Stonehenge's creation was to mark.
Stone Age Great Britain was a complicated and contentious place. It was covered with tribes that spoke their own languages, kept their own custom, and fought bitterly with one another. These battles not only caused bloodshed, they also prevented the people from moving forward. Stonehenge marks the beginning of the development of "island-wide culture," which improved the lives of everyone by reducing wars, forging trade routes, and sharing skills and information.
Stonehenge would have been an astoundingly difficult project, requiring thousands of people to work together in order to complete it. The researchers' theory is that the construction of the monument itself was emblematic of the era the creators wished to bring into being. And of course, it would stand as a visible evidence of that collaboration for centuries to come.
According to this theory, Stonehenge was difficult to build because it had to be difficult to build, otherwise what would be the point? Its creation required elements from all across the island, including manpower, skills, and raw materials.
A commenter on this story at The Week dubs Stonehenge "a Paleolithic EPCOT center," which is as succinct as it is hilarious. I'm not sure if I believe this latest theory or not, to tell you the truth. But I like the idea of considering Stonehenge to be a work of art, rather than the literal-minded, "what does this thing do" kind of analysis that usually typifies Stonehenge theories.