Stonehenge Echoes with Compelling Mystery!
Stonehenge has been an important gathering site for people going back over 9,000 years. The great stones were not always there, but other uprights were placed by various peoples who picked the strange spot for some reason or other. This compelling edifice, in its infancy and of wooden uprights, evolved to become something of great prominence and was known across mainland Europe. It attracted pilgrimages of peoples for thousands of years and was constantly worked upon during a period of many thousands of years B.C.
At first, the uprights were believed to have been made of wood, and as they rotted over the years the peoples tending the site would constantly maintain the uprights by replacing them etc. This was at a time when the peoples were evolving from nomadic hunters to more settled farming communities. Perhaps the great uprights acted like a magnet and drew outsiders towards them in some sort of wonder. This is still before the stones were put in place. We are talking of around 7,000 BC to about 3,000 BC roughly. A 4,000 year period when there were just wooden poles, (Skimmed tree trunks.) Constantly being changed or replaced due to required maintenance. As this circumstance continued, the local population would have found this an added and valuable source of commerce to go alongside their farming economy for word of these strange uprights had spread far and wide making the surrounding community more vibrant. We do not know what these wooden uprights were like, but they must have inspired some type of awe to keep the local people keen enough to maintain them. The significance of some type of calendar is obvious and very probable, but people of today who gather before the stones during the summer solstice are believed to have the significance of the stones around the wrong way. Many archaeologists and historians are of the opinion the winter solstice is the most important. Not the summer. Also, there must have been other reasons for such pilgrimages because people could do such structures in other places and have done for calendar and solstice purposes.
As the site became more prominent, the organisation of people– Beaker people by this time – were able to organise large numbers of labourers to erect stones, replacing the wooden poles. These replacements were known as bluestone. The manpower and organisation of this would have been colossal and inspiring in such an age. The circles were erected anew with these bluestone. These were not the great sarsenstones, for they were still to come. However, this new bluestone construction would have given the site added awe. People from all over, including mainland Europe, came to the stones and some were laid to rest. Among the burial sites were the remains of peoples with various ailments and this has caused excavators to ponder the idea of the wood come stone circle to have some healing importance. It may be that such was believed from the very beginning when the uprights were still wooden. It may have also become a place of great gatherings for tribal Shaman from abroad. If healers or other types of Shaman felt compelled to be before the stones, others with ailments may have journeyed for such help and guidance.
A number of graves have been dug up around Stonehenge and with various abilities of carbon dating, archaeologists and other scientific surveyors have been able to date the time these bodies were laid to rest. One was of an archer who had his bones carbon dated to around the time when the sarsenstones were put in. His skeleton showed signs of a dreadful mouth abscess that would have caused excruciating pain. The condition was so severe that when it burst it made a small hole in the bone of his jaw just below his infected teeth. He was of high social standing and in the grave next to him was a younger man. Carbon dating suggested he was also closely related to the archer. Either a son or nephew. They examiners were also able to determine that these men were from the Alpine region of Europe or had spent some considerable time there.
Another skeleton was on a woman who had a slightly larger than normal back part of her skull. This was more of a defect that may have happened due to a difficult birth and did not seem to constitute an ailment in need of healing attention. This is because the woman had lived with the condition all of her life. However, some of the historians believed the lady may have been some type of healer because such people would often be thought to have a gift of healing. She could have been a sort of practitioner among many practices gathered about the Stonehenge area catering for the many peoples that came far and wide to the stones. One might imagine all sorts of industries growing amid the vibrant community of Beaker people. Perhaps other European migrants too, who might peddle their skills to the many visitors, especially a healer.
The bluestones would eventually be removed and replaced with the great sarsenstones (the ones we know of today) with a new inner circle of bluestones. This gave Stonehenge her final grand appearance with word of such grandeur continuing to ripple out across mainland Europe. Whatever, the true reasons, the Beaker People would enjoy great prestige from the grand edifice of Stonehenge. It had a brought about a vibrant society for many thousands of years before it fell into neglect and ruin. Another mystery that is equally compelling to historians and archaeologists.
The great sarsenstones may not have been about for that long during Stonehenge’s active life compared to the other constructions before. Eventually the grand stone circle fell into ruin and alongside; the vibrant society that had sprang up with it also perished. What caused this dystopia? Who knows what brought about such a circumstance? Maybe Druidism destroyed it, because no one knows when that religion started? Was the religion going during the time of the stones? Or was it evolving when the stones fell into neglect and the peoples abandoned the place?
By the time the Romans came to Britain, Stonehenge was already a decaying monument with a forgotten history, but the compelling allure of the stones still draws people from across the world. We continue to ask questions, but it seems when we find answers, there are new questions to be answered.