Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Was Stonehenge built as a symbol of discord and protest?

I'm rather attracted by the strange story of Achill Henge, built in a remote boggy location on Achill Island in the west of Ireland by a rather rebellious individual called Joe McNamara.  Today Mr McNamara was refused permission to keep the structure, which was built originally in protest against something or other, without planning permission.  Some people love it, and others hate it-- but it is already something of a draw to tourists. 

What is it?  And what does it mean?  All very mysterious.  But it does occur to me that if Mr McNamara can put up something like this over a weekend in order to cock a snook at authority, and to demonstrate that he does not approve of the status quo, why not place the same interpretation on Stonehenge?  Forget all this nonsense about Stonehenge being a "symbol of unity" as proposed by MPP and his friends (see the Discovery report below) -- might it not have been built by some wild bunch of eccentrics who were fed up with the way the world was being run by their lords and masters, and who wanted to make a powerful protest in a way that would have the most long-lasting impact?  And maybe this explains why it was never finished -- they did it all without planning permission from the Bog Boss, and he slapped an enforcement order on them, with the full weight of the law, before the wonderful political protest could be completed?  A bunch of Neolithic hippies, sustained by endless orgies and BBQs, as confirmed by MPP himself.  Well, it does bear thinking about......


From the Irish Independent today:

Developer Joe McNamara’s ‘Achill-henge’ project refused by Bord Pleanala

There's a video too.....

PLANS by former developer Joe McNamara to retain his controversial 'Achill-henge' project have been dashed after An Bord Plenala refused his retention application.
Mr McNamara had appealed Mayo County Council's decision that the structure required planning permission. He claimed the Stonehenge-like build was exempt from planning laws as it was an “ornamental garden”.
However, An Bord Pleanala has now ruled that the structure is not an exempted development. The body sided with Mayo County Council, ruling that the structure was a development in planning terms and required planning permission.
Mr McNamara constructed the structure, which is known locally as Achill-henge, over the course of one weekend at Pollagh on Achill Island last November. He had no planning permission for the build but had argued that it was exempt from planning laws.
In ruling against Mr McNamara's appeal, An Bord Pleanala said; “the scheme in question constitutes development by virtue of the substantial nature of the excavation and construction works involved.”
Mayo County Council said it would now consider the matter in the coming days.
Mayo County Council brought a High Court injunction against Mr McNamara's continued work at the site last December. The former developer was jailed for three nights at that time after he was found to be in contempt of a court order requiring him to cease working on the structure.
The High Court later ruled that An Bord Pleanala should make the final decision on the future of the site. However, the structure has proved a draw for tourists and many locals believe it unlikely that Mr McNamara will remove it.
The structure is 4.5 metres high and 30 metres in diameter.
Mr McNamara has previously described the structure as “a place of reflection”.


Stonehenge Built as Symbol of Unity

Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi 
Fri Jun 22, 2012

Stonehenge was built as a monument to unify the peoples of Britain, researchers have concluded after 10 years of archaeological investigations.

Dismissing all previous theories, scientists working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) believe the enigmatic stone circle was built as a grand act of union after a long period of conflict between east and west Britain.

Coming from southern England and from west Wales, the stones may have been used to represent the ancestors of some of Britain's earliest farming communities.

According study leader Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, Britain's Neolithic people became increasingly unified during the monument's main construction around 3000 B.C. to 2500 B.C.

"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," Parker Pearson said.

"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," Parker Pearson said.

According to the researcher, who has detailed the new theory in the book Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery, the place in the county of Wiltshire where the iconic stones were erected was not chosen by chance.

On the contrary, it already had special significance for prehistoric Britons.

Parker Pearson and colleagues noticed that Stonehenge's solstice-aligned avenue sits upon a series of natural landforms which mark out the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset.

"When we stumbled across this extraordinary natural arrangement of the sun’s path being marked in the land, we realized that prehistoric people selected this place to build Stonehenge because of its pre-ordained significance," Parker Pearson said.

Basically, they would have seen the spot as nothing less than the "center of the world."

"This might explain why there are eight monuments in the Stonehenge area with solstitial alignments, a number unmatched anywhere else,” Parker Pearson said.

According to the researchers, the winter solstice was the more significant time of the year when Stonehenge was built 5,000-4,500 years ago.

"We can tell from ageing of the pig teeth that higher quantities of pork were eaten during midwinter at the nearby settlement of Durrington Walls, and most of the monuments in the Stonehenge area are aligned on sunrise and sunset at midwinter rather than midsummer," said Pearson.

The prehistoric monument has long baffled archaeologists, who have argued for decades over its original purpose, with two main theories taking shape in recent years: one was that it was a healing space, the other that it was a place of the dead.

Other theories suggested the great stone circle was used as a prehistoric observatory, a sun temple, and a temple of the ancient druids.

"The Stonehenge Riverside Project’s researchers have rejected all these possibilities after the largest programme of archaeological research ever mounted on this iconic monument," the researchers said in a statement.


chris johnson said...

There seems to be some dissension in the professorial ranks. Darvill's paper (2012) links the Bluestone circle with the beaker culture, which was an import. MPP (2012) thinks the bluestones were deployed around 2900 BC when insularity ruled.

So many tales, and when the learned cannot agree what chance is there for us ordinary folk?

Personally I find a considerable dissonance between Avebury and Stonehenge that a unification theory does not explain at all. MPP conveniently chooses to skip over the point in his book.

Anonymous said...

"We can tell from ageing of the pig teeth that higher quantities of pork were eaten during midwinter at the nearby settlement of Durrington Walls"

Couldn't this also be because pork was one of an extremely limited range of foodstuffs aailable during the winter months?


Anonymous said...

Pigs seem to have almost literally FLOWN to the Durrington Walls settlement from all corners of the incipient Nation in their enthusiasm to participate as the prime delicacy during the primeval ceremonial, almost Australasian in its primordial nature, beggaring belief. Struth!

Rolf Harris

Anonymous said...

Only Fools & Horses could subscribe to the notion that The Trotters might have been useful for any form of sustenance at ANY time of the year.

Director- General BBC