The image above, which was recently made public by the photo research company TimePix, is from 1867, and is part of the first known photographic sequence ever taken of Stonehenge. (There are older individual photographs, in the Royal Collection.) It’s from a book called Plans and Photographs of Stonehenge, released by the U.K.’s Ordnance Survey and written by the department head, Colonel Henry James.
Various carvings of knives and axes, the usual lattice and ring-and-cup designs have been known to exist on several of the stones at Stonehenge since the early 1950s. But recently Wessex Archaeology archaeologists used a high-end Minolta scanner to scan one of the uprights. Their scans, enhanced, appear to reveal two axe heads, of the sort seen on stones in Scotland. I can’t see it myself, but you can read about it in the November issue of British Archaeology or on this site.
Remember the Bronze age archer found in Ambury, near Stonehenge? Wessex Archaeology has found six more bodies in the same general area. The radio carbon dating hasn’t been announced yet, but the archaeologists estimate that the bodies are from about 2300 B.C.E. That’s roughly between the end of the Stone age, and the start of the Bronze age. While this grave, which appears to have been closed then reopened for the inclusion of additional bodies, is not as rich in grave goods as that of the archer, the grave does contain four pots in the style associated with the Beaker Culture that flourished during the Bronze Age, some flint tools, a flint arrowhead and a bone toggle for fastening clothing. The combination of a Bronze age pottery style, with a multiple burial grave typical of the Stone age, suggests that the burial took place on the cusp of the two ages.
According to AP, by way of Yahoo, Professor Judith S. Young, Department of Astronomy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has built a sun circle, a celestial computer along the lines of Stonehenge, or Avebury. I’ve taken pains to point out elsewhere that Stonehenge, like Avebury, or the passage tomb at Brugh Na Boine (that’s Newgrange, Ireland to you), wasn’t built by the Celts (its earliest stage predates their arrival in Britain by over a thousand years) but Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments are too deeply entrenched with things druidic and Celtic in the popular imagination to ever be disassociated.
Stonehenge looms large in our imaginations—even though Averbury—the largest such circle in Europe, is physically much larger, and Woodhenge, one of several circles at Stanton Drew, is older. Folklore names Stonehenge the “Giants Dance,” and credits Merlin as the chief architect, but those myths are comparatively recent. The circle has had a surprisingly small role in British myth, given its age and magnitude. The passage tomb at Brugh Na Boine, constructed to mark the solstice, plays a much larger role in Irish myth, and is featured in several of the tales that preface the Táin.