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Plan of Stonehenge - History
The most famous Neolithic monument, Stonehenge was built in several phases on a sacred site on the Salisbury Plain. In form Stonehenge is a series of concentric rings of standing stones around an altar stone at the center. The first ring has a horseshoe plan of originally five trilithons, each of two upright stones supporting a single colossal lintel. Beyond these was first a circle of smaller uprights, sacred "blue" stones, transported from South Wales, and then an outer, enclosing circle of sandstone monoliths 13.5 feet high, which support what was once a continuous lintel. Beyond this a circle of small, movable "marker stones" were set in pits and farther out, a landscaped trench separated the site from the surrounding land. A long avenue marked by uprights sets up an axis, identified by the Heel Stone, a large stone with a pointed top.
The construction was highly accurate for the period. The engineering required for transporting, shaping, raising and connecting the stones and the accuracy of their positioning according to astronomical phenomena is remarkable evidence of the knowledge and skills of Stonehenge's makers. JY
"Stonehenge's plan is both centralizeddisposed around a vertical axisand longitudinal, developed along a horizontal axis set into the central plan. The structure was part of the landscape, yet set off from it. It was an enclosure, isolated from the world by successive rings of stone, yet open to it through the stone screens. Indeed, at the very center the participant in the rites of Stonehenge experienced a most profound connection with nature, for the monument seems to have been dominated by a powerful cult of sun worship. From its center, with the awesome trilithons on three sides, one could observe on the fourth side, at the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), the rising sun coming up exactly over the apex of the Heel Stone."
Trachtenberg and Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p51.
The Standing Stones are up to 22 feet high, weighing up to 45 tons each. The uprights were carefully plumbed and shaped to an upward tapering convexity "anticipating the entasis of the Greek column." The lintels were cut in slight curves to make part of the circle, and were secured by integral stone mortise and tenon joints.
Trachtenberg and Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p. 50.
"At Stonehenge, mortise-and-tenon joints secure lintels to supporting sarsens, while tongues similar to toggle joints link each lintel in the outer circle to its neighbor."
Elizabeth L. Newhouse, ed. The Builders, Marvels of Engineering. Washington, D.C.: The National Geographic Society, 1992. p205.
The latitude of Stonehenge is 51 degrees, 11 minutes North.
Nova. Secrets of Lost Empires : Stonehenge . Nova, 1997. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN 6304463146. Video - Available at Amazon.com
Spiro Kostof. A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals . Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0195083784. plan drawing of Stonehenge 1 ca. 2750BC, fA, p39. plan drawing of Stonehenge 2 later third millenium BC, p39, fB. plan drawing of Stonehenge 3, p39, fC. plan drawing of Stonehenge 4 ca. 1500BC, p39, fD. Available at Amazon.com Available at Amazon.com
G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture . New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. photo, p11.
Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle, Volume 1 . Paris: Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. detail drawing in elevation showing depth of stone placement, p47. detail drawing in plan and elevation showing convex construction, p47.
Russell Sturgis. The Architecture Sourcebook . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984. ISBN 0-442-20831-9. LC 84-7275. NA2840.S78. perspective drawing, p334.
Introductory Astronomy: StonehengeGoal: In this lab we will design Stonehenge-like monuments for different latitudes on Earth, thereby understanding how the sun appears to move throughout the year. These sheets also contain questions that should be answered in the writeup. Materials: solar-motion demonstrator, scientific calculator, ruler, protractor. Today, Stonehenge is a broken stone ring 30 meters in diameter made of hewn blocks that mass between 25 and 50 tons each. The blocks were transported from Marlborough Downs, some 20 miles north of the Stonehenge site. The ring is called the "sarsen ring" and over half of its component blocks were quarried away sometime in the centuries between 2100 B.C. and today. Archaeologists have partially reconstructed some 16 of them, and 6 are now re-capped with their lintels. There is also an inner, horeshoe-shaped arrangement of 5 lintel-capped pairs called "trilithons". The whole arrangement is surrounded by a low earthwork embankment 100m in diameter with only one gap, to the northeast, in which direction lies another boulder known as the "heel stone". (That's not the heel stone in the upper part of the above picture, but one of four "station stones".) The purpose of Stonehenge is astronomical. It is carefully aligned so that, if one sits at the center, one has a clear view of the summer-solstice sun rising over the heel stone. Such monuments are fairly common, such as Nabta or Karnak in Egypt, Teotihuacan in Mexico, Moose Mountain in Saskatchewan, Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, or scores of stone rings found in Britain and western Europe.
Upon 20th century archaeological inquiry, it was discovered that the Stonehenge just described was one of several versions constructed on the site. The first (Stonehenge I) was built in 2400 B.C., and appears to have been by far the most practical. The Stonehenge we see today is Stonehenge III, and seems to be more of a monument to the earlier Stonehenges , a massive commemoration (perhaps ceremonial) of the earlier site, perhaps like the erection of a cathedral rather than a small, more practical church. One thing is for sure: with its smaller ring diameter, Stonehenge III is less accurate than its predecessors.
The basic Stonehenge plan is illustrated above, where north is straight up, east is to the right. The outer sarcen ring surrounds the inner 5 trilithons, which open up to the northeast. Lighter-grey colored stones are toppled, broken, or missing. Darker stones have been restored by archaeologists. FYI, more detailed maps of Stonehenge I and II, and III are included at lab's end (note that north is slanted left in these additional diagrams).
Let us design a few Stonehenge-like plans for different places on Earth. For this we will use two methods: (1) seat-of-the pants using our solar motion demonstrators, and (2) using a calculator. Using a protractor, we will sketch lines of sight for midsummer (summer solstice) sunrise and sunset and midwinter (winter solstice) sunrise and sunset.
First, review the behavior of the sun during the year by filling in the following table.
Celestial Sphere Coordinates of the Sun
|Date||Name||Right Ascension (hours)||Declination (degrees north or south)|
|March 21||Spring Equinox|| || |
| ||Summer Solstice|| || |
| ||Autumn Equinox|| || |
|Dec. 21|| || || |
We will use the earthbound coordinate system of altitude and azimuth. Altitude measure the angle of an object in degrees above the horizon. So an object on the horizon has an altitude of 0 degrees, and an object straight overhead at the zenith has an altitude of 90 degrees. Azimuth is usually measured starting at North and increasing toward the East, so that an object due East has azimuth 90 degreees, and object due south has an azimuth of 180 degrees, and an object due west has an azimuth of 270 degrees.
Write some azimuths around the green portion of your solar motion demonstrator. Fill in the following table using your solar motion demonstrator tool. Each tick represents 10 degrees. Try to estimate the azimuths to the nearest degree. The Keck telescope is located on the big island of Hawaii.
Sunrise/set azimuths using solar motion device
|Location||Latitude||Az. of summer sol. sunrise||Az. of winter sol. sunrise||Az. of summer sol. sunset||Az. of winter sol. sunset|
|Equator||0.0|| || || || |
|Pullman ||46.8|| || || || |
|Stonehenge||51.2|| || || || |
|Anchorage ||60.5 || || || || |
Next, upack your calculator and try the following formula.
sin D = sin o / cos L
- D is the maximum deviation from due east (for example, the sunrise azimuths will be 90 degrees plus and minus this number for summer and winter, respectively),
- o is the tilt of the Earth's axis away from the ecliptic, 23.5 degrees, and where
- L is the latitude of the observatory.
Refined azimuths using trig. formula
|Location||Latitude||D (from formula)||Az. of summer sol. sunrise (90-D)||Az. of winter sol. sunrise (90+D)||Az. of summer sol. sunset (270+D)||Az. of winter sol. sunset (270-D)|
|Equator||0.0|| || || || || |
|Pullman ||46.8 || || || || || |
|Stonehenge||51.2|| || || || || |
|Anchorage ||60.5 || || || || |
The formula assumes a perfectly flat horizon. Q1: How do the numbers in the second table compare with the numbers in the first? (Approximately, by how many degrees do the two estimates differ, on average?)
Next, using a ruler and protractor, sketch in lines of sight for the following observatory plans for each of 4 phenomena listed in the above tables. The first one, for the equator, is done for you, as a model.
Finally, note that, as in the figure below, if you look north, at the celestial north pole (CNP), the altitude of the CNP above the horizon is the same as the observer's latitude. (This checks for the equator, where the CNP is right on the horizon, and for the north pole, where the CNP is exactly overhead). Furthermore, the angle between the CNP and the celestial equator must always be 90 degrees. So if the sun is on the celestial equator then its noontime altitude can be found by adding all the angles: (Latitude) + (90) + (Sun Alt.) = (180).
Noontime sun altitudes
|Location||Latitude||Alt. of spring equinox noon sun||Alt. of summer solstice noon sun||Alt. of fall equinox noon sun||Alt. of winter solstice noon sun|
|Equator||0.0|| || || || |
|Pullman||46.8|| || || || |
|Stonehenge||51.2|| || || || |
|Anchorage||60.5|| || || || |
The builders of Stonehenge originally found that the sun reached the same spot on the horizon at midsummer by patient observation over several years. It must have been quite a discovery for these stone-age tribesmen! In your writeup, tell how you could (Q2) find north, (Q3 ) find your present latitude, and (Q4) set up a (small) stonehenge that would point to the rising and setting suns at the equinoxes and solstices. You can use measurement devices like a protractor, string, astrolabe (a protractor with a plumb-bob attached), and your solar-motion demonstrator, but you have to be able to do the job in a few days or nights - you can't wait years to see where the Sun actually goes.
Your guide to Stonehenge, plus 12 fascinating facts you might not know
Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous monuments. Located in Wiltshire and managed by English Heritage, the prehistoric site attracts more than one million tourists each year. But when was Stonehenge actually constructed? What was it used for? And why did Charles Darwin pay a visit in the 1880s?
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Published: February 12, 2021 at 10:00 am
Standing proud on Salisbury Plain in southern England, Stonehenge is one of the most iconic monuments in the world. Well over a million people visit the site every year and numbers are on the rise, especially since the opening of a new visitor centre. Yet very little is really known about the structure a complete absence of written material means that we can only speculate about its creation and significance. As a result, Stonehenge has been a constant source of conjecture, from the earliest recorded tourists to the present-day archaeologists and academics who work there.
The site, as we see it, comprises a confusing jumble of stone uprights, some capped with lintels, together with their fallen compatriots, all set within a low, circular earthwork. You can’t enter the stone circle during normal opening hours (that’s only possible on special tours), so for most visitors the site is visible only from afar: tantalising, enigmatic and out of reach.
Follow the links below to jump to each section:
- Why was Stonehenge built?
- How old is Stonehenge?
- How many stones were used to build Stonehenge?
- Where do the stones for Stonehenge come from?
- What have been the biggest threats to Stonehenge?
- 12 fascinating facts about Stonehenge
In 2018, historian Miles Russell – who was part of a team excavating within the central uprights of Stonehenge in the first archaeological investigation there for 70 years – took on the top questions about Stonehenge for BBC History Revealed…
Q: Why was Stonehenge built?
Over the years there have been many suggestions as to why the stones were set up on Salisbury Plain. The earliest interpretation was provided by Geoffrey of Monmouth who, in 1136, suggested that the stones had been erected as a memorial to commemorate British leaders treacherously murdered by their Saxon foes in the years immediately following the end of Roman Britain. The stones were, Geoffrey wrote, part of an Irish stone circle, called the Giant’s Dance, which were brought to Salisbury Plain under the direction of the wizard Merlin.
The first detailed study of the stones, conducted by the architect Inigo Jones early in the 1620s, concluded that the monument could not have been the work of the primitive Britons who “squatted in caves” and lived “on milk, roots and fruits”, but had to have been designed by the Romans, probably being a temple dedicated to Apollo.
In 1740, antiquarian William Stukeley published his history of Stonehenge, subtitled ‘A temple restored to the British druids’. Stukeley suggested that the circle had been built by a pre-Roman Celtic priesthood of Sun-worshippers descended from the Phoenicians, who had travelled to Britain from the eastern Mediterranean “before the time of Abraham”.
The first official custodian of Stonehenge, Henry Browne, wrote and privately published the first guidebook, which he sold direct to visitors in 1823. Browne’s theories, however, were shaped by the Old Testament he postulated that the structure was antediluvian, meaning it was one of the few monuments that had survived the Biblical flood.
A popular theory within the 1960s counter-culture was that Stonehenge was an advanced form of computer or calculating device. In his 1965 book Stonehenge Decoded, astronomer Gerald Hawkins suggests that the stones had been positioned to accurately predict major astronomical events. Many of Hawkins’ ideas concerning Stonehenge as prehistoric observatory have now been dismissed, although the summer and winter equinoxes remain popular times of the year to visit the monument today.
Listen: Mike Pitts considers how and why the monument was created, more than 4,000 years ago, on this episode of the HistoryExtra podcast:
Q: How old is Stonehenge?
Damaged and distant though it undoubtedly is, Stonehenge remains awe inspiring, especially when one considers it was put together 4,500 years ago by a pre-industrial farming society using tools made of bone and stone.
As far as can be determined, work at the site began somewhere after 3000 BC, with the construction of a circular, externally ditched earthwork enclosure. Quite why this particular part of Salisbury Plain was considered important, we will never know, but the new enclosure, which contained cremation burials and settings for timber and stone uprights, including a number of bluestones from Wales, possibly acted as a form of communal cemetery.
A major change came at around 2500 BC with the addition of a horseshoe of sarsen (sandstone) trilithons surrounded by an outer circle of sarsens, all joined with lintels. The bluestones were, at this time, repositioned in a double circle between the larger sarsen settings. The Station Stones, a series of sarsens placed within the inner edge of the surrounding earthwork, may also belong to this phase, as indeed does the rearrangement of stones within the main, northeast-facing entrance to the enclosure.
The third stage of modification came between 2400 and 2300 BC with the construction of the Avenue, the recutting of the main enclosure ditch, and the reorganisation of the entrance stones. Around 2200 BC, the bluestone circle was disassembled and rearranged into two oval settings, one inside the horseshoe of sarsens and one between this and the outer sarsen uprights.
By 1800 BC, the stones were being broken and carvings were being etched into the sarsens. At some point in the late- or post-Roman period, during the 4th or 5th century AD, the bluestones were again modified, but the full extent of this alteration is unknown.
The first attempt to resolve the date of Stonehenge occurred in the 1620s during an excavation commissioned by the Duke of Buckingham. Unfortunately we know little about the work, other than it exposed at least two large pits, together with “stagges hornes and bulls hornes” and “pieces of armour eaten out with rust”. None of these finds survive. Further exploration took place in the early 19th century, work which may have contributed to the overall instability of the stones. On New Year’s Eve 1900, part of the outer circle of sarsen stones collapsed, taking down a lintel with it.
Concerns about the security of the stones led to a renewed phase of excavation and stone straightening. Between 1919 and 1926, excavations centred on the site’s southeastern quadrant. Another campaign of excavation took between 1950 and 1964, together with a programme of stabilisation, repair and stone re-erection. Although reconstruction of the monument has helped ensure the long-term survival of Stonehenge, the results of these excavations were not published until 1995.
In 2008, two smaller, targeted archaeological excavations took place within the circle. The first (which I took part in), designed to investigate the date, nature and settings of the internal smaller stones, recovered significant evidence for late- and post-Roman use of the monument. The second, which focused on retrieving cremation burials from the earliest phase of the site, demonstrated that men, women and children had all been buried there between 3000 and 2500 BC. Research published in August 2018 revealed that some of the prehistoric cremations recovered were of individuals who were not local to the monument, possibly – although this is yet to be confirmed – originating from western Wales, Ireland or northern Scotland
Archaeological investigation, limited although it has been to date, has proved helpful in establishing a building chronology for Stonehenge. No single phase of the monument, it is fair to say, was probably ever completed it is likely that it was an ongoing building project throughout much of its existence.
Q: How many stones were used to build Stonehenge?
We don’t know for sure, as certain phases of the monument may never actually have been completed. If we assume that the outer ring of sarsens was finished, then it would have contained 30 uprights and 30 lintels. Add to this the five trilithons in the central horseshoe, that gives us 75 sarsens in total. Beyond the centre there are four additional sarsens standing today, but there are recorded holes, for those moved or taken away, for at least another ten.
In addition to the sarsens, there is the large sandstone monolith (now fallen) known as the Altar Stone, and an unknown number of bluestones. The outer circle of bluestones may originally have contained 60 uprights, although there is only certain evidence for 28 and, of those, only seven are still standing. The inner bluestone horseshoe may have contained 19, of which only six still stand. A conservative guess would suggest something in the region of 169 stones on the site at any one time.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Today, Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage, while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust (members of either organisation get free entry to the site, as do local residents). A new visitor and exhibition centre was opened in 2013 1.5 miles from the monument, outside of which are five reconstructed Neolithic houses that offer a glimpse into what life would have been like for the people who built Stonehenge some 4,500 years ago. Inside the visitor centre, you can enjoy a virtual tour of Stonehenge.
Q:Where do the stones for Stonehenge come from?
Geologically speaking, two discrete sources can be identified for the stones used in the construction of Stonehenge. The most impressive uprights, the sarsens, were sourced locally, possibly from somewhere near the Marlborough Downs, approximately 20 miles to the north. Here, naturally occurring sarsen can still be found and, although none are today as big as those recorded from Stonehenge, it was probably from here that they were originally dug out of the ground – quite an effort considering most weigh between 30 and 40 tonnes. [In July 2020, archaeologists confirmed that the origin of the giant sarsen stones at Stonehenge has finally been discovered, pinpointing the source of the stones to an area 15 miles (25km) north of the site near Marlborough].
From Marlborough, it is likely that the roughly shaped blocks were transported across the undulating landscape of Wiltshire to their resting place on Salisbury Plain. Quite how this was achieved, given the technology and resources available to Neolithic people, continues to perplex, intrigue and annoy academics to this day.
The smaller bluestone (dolerite and rhyolite) pillars are of volcanic and igneous origin. The most likely source of them are outcrops in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, 155 miles to the west, where recent archaeological work suggests the presence of prehistoric quarries. It is possible that the stones were cut direct to order alternatively, they may have been part of a Welsh stone circle, moved wholesale to Salisbury Plain.
Q: What have been the biggest threats to Stonehenge?
The military | Salisbury Plain has been a training ground for more than a century. Today the army is mindful of the monument, but it was not always so. Mine tests during World War I, together with tank and artillery firing practice, caused some stones to move and fracture. Then came the arrival of the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, whose aircraft skimmed the tops of the lintels as they came in to land.
Hands-on tourists | Until the late 19th century, visitors regularly chipped off pieces to take home and engraved their initials into the monument. Campers set up within the circle, digging fire pits that undermined the stability of the stones.
Human-made eyesores | Unrestricted access to the interior of Stonehenge in the mid-20th century resulted in significant erosion and an increase in picnic-related litter. Fences, paths and custodians’ huts helped to reduce the damage, but added unsightly new elements. The removal of a car park and the huts, and moving the visitor centre, has started to bring a more ‘natural’ feel to the site.
Festivalgoers | The Stonehenge Free Festival, timed to coincide with the summer solstice, brought thousands to Salisbury Plain in the 1970s and 1980s, causing significant damage to the landscape. It came to and end in 1985 after the so-called Battle of the Beanfield, in which riot police prevented travellers from entering Stonehenge to set up the festival.
Increasing traffic | To the north, the A344 passed within a few metres of the site, whilst the A303 – a main route between London and several popular holiday destinations – is close by to the south. Together, they generated ground vibration. The removal of the A344 has reduced the threat, although the A303 remains.
12 fascinating facts about Stonehenge
Here are 12 of the most important quick-fire facts about Stonehenge and its mysterious origins – from the story of its construction to its fascinating links with astronomy, and why earthworms once posed the biggest threat to its future…
Stonehenge was built in several stages
Built in several stages, Stonehenge began about 5,000 years ago as a simple earthwork enclosure where prehistoric people buried their cremated dead. The stone circle was erected in the centre of the monument in the late Neolithic period, around 2500 BC.
It includes two different types of stone
Two types of stone are used at Stonehenge: the larger sarsens, and the smaller bluestones. Most archaeologists believe that the sarsens were brought from Marlborough Downs (20 miles away), while the bluestones came from the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales (140 miles). The exact method is not known, but the stones were probably hauled across the land or carried to the site using water networks.
It’s not a henge
There are many henges in Britain, but you can’t count Stonehenge among them. The term describes a raised earthwork with an internal ditch Stonehenge’s ditch is outside its earthwork, meaning it isn’t a true henge. Avebury, several miles to the north, is probably the most famous real henge.
Stonehenge extends underground
The sarsen stones at Stonehenge may look big (they are) but around a quarter of their bulk is buried underground for support. Stone 56, the largest surviving upright of the inner sarsen trilithon, stands 6.58 metres above ground, with 2.13 metres out of sight, giving it an overall height of 8.71 metres.
The earliest depiction of Stonehenge is rectangular
The earliest depiction of Stonehenge appears in the Scala Mundi (Chronicle of the World), compiled around 1340. The monument is drawn rather unrealistically, appearing rectangular (rather than circular) in plan.
There were originally two ‘entrances’
There were originally only two entrances to the enclosure, English Heritage explains – a wide one to the north east, and a smaller one on the southern side. Today there are many more gaps – this is mainly the result of later tracks that once crossed the monument.
Stonehenge includes a circle of 56 pits
A circle of 56 pits, known as the Aubrey Holes (named after John Aubrey, who identified them in 1666), sits inside the enclosure. Its purpose remains unknown, but some believe the pits once held stones or posts.
It was built at a time of “great change”
The stone settings at Stonehenge were built at a time of “great change in prehistory,” says English Heritage, “just as new styles of ‘Beaker’ pottery and the knowledge of metalworking, together with a transition to the burial of individuals with grave goods, were arriving from Europe. From about 2400 BC, well furnished Beaker graves such as that of the Amesbury Arche are found nearby”.
Roman artefacts have been found at the site
Roman pottery, stone, metal items and coins have been found during various excavations at Stonehenge. An English Heritage report in 2010 said that considerably fewer medieval artefacts have been discovered, which suggests the site was used more sporadically during the period.
Stonehenge has fascinating links with astronomy
Stonehenge has a long relationship with astronomers, the 2010 English Heritage report explains. In 1720, Dr Halley used magnetic deviation and the position of the rising sun to estimate the age of Stonehenge. He concluded the date was 460 BC. And, in 1771, John Smith mused that the estimated total of 30 sarsen stones multiplied by 12 astrological signs equalled 360 days of the year, while the inner circle represented the lunar month.
Charles Darwin discovered why the stones were sinking
In the 1880s, after carrying out some of the first scientifically recorded excavations at the site, Charles Darwin concluded that earthworms were largely to blame for the Stonehenge stones sinking through the soil.
Stonehenge was in a sorry state by the 20th century
By the beginning of the 20th century there had been more than 10 recorded excavations, and the site was considered to be in a “sorry state”, says English Heritage – several sarsens were leaning. Consequently the Society of Antiquaries lobbied the site’s owner, Sir Edmond Antrobus, and offered to assist with conservation.
This article was originally published by HistoryExtra in September 2014 and updated with information from BBC History Revealed in July 2020
World Heritage Site Pictures: Stonehenge
Revelers gather to observe the summer solstice sunrise. Thousands flock annually to the site to welcome the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
“People forget or don’t realize that Stonehenge is more than just the stone circle, it’s a landscape,” Eavis said. “This will make it a place for walking again. Visitors will be able to approach the stones from the south, for example, without taking their life in their hands trying to cross the highway.”
Opponents contend that the tunnel project may irreparably damage an ancient landscape that is only beginning to be understood and is still full of surprises. Last June the discovery of 20 deep shafts arranged in an enormous circle nearby the site forced the government to delay the decision on the project for another four months while the find could be assessed.
“Remote sensing has revolutionized archaeology and is transforming our understanding of ancient landscapes—even Stonehenge, a place we thought we knew well,” said Vince Gaffney, a landscape archaeologist at Bradford University and co-leader of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project, which discovered the previously unsuspected shafts. “Nobody had any idea these were there. What else don’t we know?”
Originally an 18 th -century carriage road between London and Exeter, the A303 highway has evolved to become one of the main arteries to England’s southwest. In addition to Stonehenge visitors, it carries heavy truck traffic and hordes of holiday travelers heading to seaside destinations in Cornwall and Devon.
One of the most notorious bottlenecks along A303 is the narrow two-lane stretch between Amesbury and Berwick Down in Wiltshire. That’s where the highway passes within 200 yards of the iconic stone circle, one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions. (Stonehenge-era pig roasts united ancient Britain, scientists say.)
“The road was never designed for anything like these levels of traffic,” said Tom Fort, author of Highway to The Sun, a history of the A303. “They've improved segments of it piecemeal over the years, widening them into four-lane divided highways, but the stretch around Stonehenge was always the tricky part. Nobody has ever been able to agree on what to do about it.”
Over the decades more than 50 different proposals have been put forward to solve the traffic problem. The idea of a tunnel was first proposed in the early 1990s and revisited several times over the years, but it was dismissed each time because of its high cost.
The approved plan will expand the highway to four lanes as it approaches Stonehenge, then dip underground in a two-mile-long tunnel that will pass about an eighth of a mile to the south of the stone circle.
While the tunnel itself will run some 130 feet below the surface—well below any archaeological layers—the approaches and portals will be cut through potentially artifact-rich topsoil within the grounds of the World Heritage Site. That concerns Gaffney, who believes the tunnel “needs to be much longer, under the whole of the site. We shouldn’t be gouging up a World Heritage area like this. We have a duty of care.”
Prior to today’s announcement an alliance of tunnel opponents—including the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Archaeological Trust—called on the government to reconsider the plan.
“If A303 widening at Stonehenge is felt to be essential, it should be done by means of a deep-bored tunnel at least 4.5 kilometres [2.8 miles] long,” states their petition, which was signed by 150,000 people. “Anything shorter would cause irreparable damage to this landscape, in breach of the World Heritage Convention.”
Opponents have also voiced concern that preparatory archaeology work done in advance of the tunnel excavation won’t be held to the same high standard as an academic dig.
"As a researcher, if I want to excavate in a World Heritage Site like Stonehenge, I’d have to agree to sieve 100 percent of the topsoil," said Michael Parker Pearson of the University College London's Institute of Archaeology, who has excavated at Stonehenge for many years. "I wouldn't get a permit otherwise. The topsoil is where you get the vast majority of your archaeology." The developers building the tunnel, Pearson said, will be allowed to sieve as little as one percent of the topsoil.
English Heritage’s Eavis, however, said sifting all of the topsoil is not standard practice for a project of this size. “The line of the road has been surveyed and archaeologically evaluated, and appropriate excavation and sieving strategies put in place to make certain nothing important is missed,” she said.
Archaeologist Mike Pitts agrees. “The topsoil in the areas relevant to the tunnel project has been heavily plowed for centuries,” said Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, the publication of the Council for British Archaeology. “All that’s likely to be found is stone tools and debris from their manufacture, removed from any archaeological context.” (This ancient British monument was 10 times bigger than Stonehenge.)
Not all archaeologists are opposed to the project. “I’m a big advocate of the tunnel and getting it done as soon as possible,” said Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University. “People need to remember that this isn’t about building a road in a World Heritage Site, as some people seem to think. It’s a project to remove an existing road and put it underground.”
Everyone agrees that the present road is a disaster and needs fixing, Darville said. “Just listen to the live video of the summer solstice [celebration] back in June. All night you can hear the road, and that was during lockdown when there was supposed to be very little traffic.”
And, Darville said, there’s another factor in the tunnel’s favor: “We understand from Highways England that if the tunnel doesn’t go ahead, there will most probably be an on-surface solution involving a dual carriageway. Nobody wants that!”
Uses Of Stonehenge
In line with the Druid theory, many people continued to believe that the Druids had used Stonehenge for sacrificial rituals. However, experts in the field have debunked this theory, claiming that Druids performed rituals in wooded and mountainous areas. Other theories suggest that Stonehenge was an important pilgrimage site, used for healing the sick. Many of the burial sites surrounding the area have been excavated, showing evidence of significant instances of trauma and deformities. People following this theory believe that the ancient cultures attributed magical healing properties to the stones.
Still, other theories suggest that Stonehenge was a stone replica of timber structures of the time. These researchers believe that timber was associated with living humans, while stone was associated with the dead. They believe that Stonehenge was the destination point of a long, symbolic funerary procession, beginning at civilizations in the east and moving along the river and over land to the west. Other researchers believe Stonehenge was built along astronomical alignments.
Only one thing is certain. The mystery surrounding Stonehenge makes it a popular tourist site today.
Second stage: 2640–2480 bce
Except for human burials, there is no evidence of activity between Stonehenge’s first and second stages of construction. About 2500 bce the sarsen stones were brought from the Avebury area of the Marlborough Downs, about 20 miles (32 km) to the north. Outside the northeastern entrance of Stonehenge they were dressed smooth by pounding with sarsen hammers. They were then arranged inside the circle in a horseshoe-shaped setting of five tall trilithons (paired uprights with a lintel)—the central and largest of which is known as the giant trilithon—surrounded by 30 uprights linked by curved lintels to form a circle. The stones appear to have been laid out systematically in units and subunits of the long foot the circumference of the sarsen circle is 300 long feet. The lintels, weighing some 7 tons each, are held on top of the uprights by mortise-and-tenon (dovetail) joints, and the ends of the curved lintels of the sarsen circle fit together with tongue-and-groove joints. All the joints were created using hammer stones, presumably in imitation of woodwork. Most of the sarsen uprights weigh about 25 tons and are about 18 feet (5.5 metres) high. The uprights of the giant trilithon, however, were 29 feet (9 metres) and 32 feet (10 metres) high, weighing more than 45 tons.
Only one of the giant trilithon’s uprights still stands, reaching a height above ground of about 23 feet (7 metres). Only six lintels (out of a total of 230) sit in place on the sarsen circle, with two more lying on the ground. Three of the five sarsen trilithon lintels are in place, with the other two on the ground. Four of the uprights from the sarsen circle are absent, and one is much shorter than the others. Although it is possible that the sarsen circle was never completed, the existence of a hole for an absent sarsen suggests that this stone and others were reused as construction materials for Roman buildings and medieval churches in the vicinity.
The bluestones were observed by Atkinson to have been arranged into a double arc, which, for convenience, he called the Q and R Holes. Atkinson’s records suggested that the Q and R Holes predated the sarsen circle and trilithons, but Darvill and Wainwright’s excavation in 2008 cast doubt on this stratigraphic relationship. It is more likely that the bluestone arc was indeed constructed as part of the sarsen circle and trilithon monument, with bluestones brought from the Aubrey Holes. Bluestones may also have been brought to Stonehenge at this time, or slightly later, from Bluestonehenge (where they had been removed by at least 2280 bce ). The bluestones weigh up to 4 tons each, and the taller ones are over 6 feet (2 metres) high. Most of them are unworked natural pillars.
Four upright stones, called the Station Stones, were erected near the Aubrey Hole ring, probably also during the second stage of Stonehenge, if not during the period between the monument’s first and second stages. Only two of the stones—both of sarsen—have survived. The four Station Stones were placed in a rectangular formation, aligned along the same solstitial axis as the great trilithon and the bluestone arc. The two missing Station Stones were partially covered by low mounds known as the South Barrow and the North Barrow. The South Barrow was raised on top of the floor of a 36-by-33-foot (11-by-10-metre) building in the shape of a D that lay immediately to the east of the small southern entrance through Stonehenge’s bank and ditch. From this entrance an undated passageway marked by timber posts led toward the centre of the monument. Other sarsens were erected within the northeastern entrance. Three of them formed a facade across the entrance, of which the sarsen known as the Slaughter Stone is the sole survivor. Beyond them lies the Heelstone, set within a circular ring ditch. From the Slaughter Stone to just past the Heelstone, three evenly spaced stone holes (undated) share the same axis as the timber posts thought to belong to Stonehenge’s first stage.
About the same time the sarsens were erected, two sets of concentric timber circles were built within a large settlement almost 2 miles (3 km) to the northeast of the Stonehenge monument. One of these circles, called the Southern Circle, was set at the centre of an ancient settlement of small houses. The other, the smaller Northern Circle, was built on the north side of the settlement. Nine houses, up to about 18 feet (5.5 metres) square in plan, were excavated in 2004–07 and reckoned to form part of a 42-acre (17-hectare) settlement that may have supported up to 1,000 such dwellings. This seasonally occupied and short-lived community is thought to have been the builders’ camp. By 2460 bce its ruins were enclosed by the bank and ditch of Britain’s largest henge enclosure, Durrington Walls. Outside its south entrance stood a third concentric timber circle—Woodhenge.
Dramatic discovery links Stonehenge to its original site – in Wales
An ancient myth about Stonehenge, first recorded 900 years ago, tells of the wizard Merlin leading men to Ireland to capture a magical stone circle called the Giants’ Dance and rebuilding it in England as a memorial to the dead.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account had been dismissed, partly because he was wrong on other historical facts, although the bluestones of the monument came from a region of Wales that was considered Irish territory in his day.
Now a vast stone circle created by our Neolithic ancestors has been discovered in Wales with features suggesting that the 12th-century legend may not be complete fantasy.
Its diameter of 110 metres is identical to the ditch that encloses Stonehenge and it is aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise, just like the Wiltshire monument.
A series of buried stone-holes that follow the circle’s outline has been unearthed, with shapes that can be linked to Stonehenge’s bluestone pillars. One of them bears an imprint in its base that matches the unusual cross-section of a Stonehenge bluestone “like a key in a lock”, the archaeologists discovered.
Mike Parker Pearson, a professor of British later prehistory at University College London, told the Guardian: “I’ve been researching Stonehenge for 20 years now and this really is the most exciting thing we’ve ever found.”
The evidence backs a century-old theory that the nation’s greatest prehistoric monument was built in Wales and venerated for hundreds of years before being dismantled and dragged to Wiltshire, where it was resurrected as a second-hand monument.
Alice Roberts with Mike Parker Pearson at one of the remaining Waun Mawn stones. Photograph: Barney Rowe/BBC/PA
Geoffrey had written of “stones of a vast magnitude” in his History of the Kings of Britain, which popularised the legend of King Arthur, but which is considered as much myth as historical fact.
Parker Pearson said there may well be a “tiny grain” of truth in his account of Stonehenge: “My word, it’s tempting to believe it … We may well have just found what Geoffrey called the Giants’ Dance.”
The discovery will be published in Antiquity, the peer-reviewed journal of world archaeology, and explored in a documentary on BBC Two on Friday presented by Prof Alice Roberts.
A century ago the geologist Herbert Thomas established that the spotted dolerite bluestones at Stonehenge originated in the Preseli hills of Pembrokshire where, he suspected, they had originally formed a “venerated stone circle”.
The newly discovered circle – one of the largest ever constructed in Britain – is virtually a stone’s throw (3 miles) from the Preseli quarries from which the bluestones were extracted before being dragged more than 140 miles to Salisbury Plain some 5,000 years ago.
In 2015, Parker Pearson’s team discovered a series of recesses in the rocky outcrops of Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin with similar stones that the prehistoric builders extracted but left behind. Carbonised hazelnut shells – the charred remains of a Neolithic snack from the quarry workers’ campfires – were radiocarbon-dated to 3,300 BC, meaning the bluestones had been quarried almost four centuries before Stonehenge was constructed.
It convinced Parker Pearson in 2015 that “somewhere near the quarries there is the first Stonehenge and that what we’re seeing at Stonehenge is a second-hand monument”.
On Thursday he talked of his excitement of finding the evidence. “How else do you explain that the stones come from a series of quarries 140 miles away as the crow flies, if there isn’t some other kind of relationship?’ It just struck me that surely there has to be a stone circle.”
Over many years, Parker Pearson and his team of professional archaeologists, students and volunteers explored every conceivable Preseli site in a needle-in-a-haystack search.
To see the invisible, they used the most advanced scientific techniques, but they failed to reveal anything in the unyielding soil around a site named Waun Mawn. It still has four monoliths, three now recumbent. A century ago, a suggestion that these were remnants of a stone circle was dismissed.
But the theory was proved correct. Parker Pearson refused to give up and resorted to tried-and-tested digging around those monoliths. “We were lucky because this circle had four stones still left. If they’d taken them to Wiltshire, we would never have found the circle’s stone-holes and I doubt archaeologists would have stumbled across this for centuries to come.”
The acidic soil had destroyed almost all organic matter that could have been carbon-dated. But traces of ancient sunlight lingering in the soil was analysed and gave a likely construction date of around 3,300BC – finally confirming Stonehenge’s secret, lost history.
This article was amended on 12 February 2021 to clarify in the subheading that it was only the Stonehenge bluestones that are believed to have first stood at Waun Mawn before being transported to Wiltshire.
Plan of Stonehenge - History
& The Origins of Writing
My newest print & ebook, Ancient Signs
shows that our modern alphabet is based on alphabets derived from syllabic scripts (Sumer, Egypt, Iran, Anatolia, Crete, Cyprus).
First-time users please read
the Index Page thoroughly for understanding.
THE GROUND PLAN OF STONEHENGE
Photographs and illustrations of Stonehenge often do not provide precise geographic orientation for the normal viewing reader, who in his mind's eye may then tend to see Stonehenge more as a simple stone circle rather than as a group of differentiable megaliths intentionally positioned by ancient man to serve a specific function. The first graphic consists of a modern photo by us (2005) plus an illustrated ground plan of Stonehenge as it appears today (both by Andis Kaulins).
The middle graphic is a scan by Andis Kaulins of a fold-out Stonehenge survey map from the year 1810. One scan was made of each map half and both then pasted together on a PC using graphics software to create one image. That original survey map is found glued to the inside margin of page 55 of William Long's book, Stonehenge and its Barrows , published in Devizes in 1876 from the original publication in Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, vol. xvi, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. The Stonehenge map in Long gives the same view from the bottom upwards as our photograph and illustrated ground plan above it. These two graphic images thus provide an excellent frontal view of Stonehenge combined with a matching "aerial" perspective of the larger megalithic site. Stonehenge is thereby viewed along its main axis, which is the Stonehenge Avenue, usually just called the Avenue. Gerald S. Hawkins in his book Stonehenge Decoded (p. 54) writes that the 30 sarsens were spaced uniformly as an outer circle with an average error of less than 4 inches, but "At the northeast, precisely--as might be expected--on the midsummer sunrise line, there was an entrance to this circle, made by spacing two stones (1 and 30) 12 inches farther apart than average". This gap is quite apparent in the photograph above.
In that photograph The large fallen stone a bit to the left at the top of the avenue is the Slaughter Stone, which is not as famous as the Heel Stone, not pictured here because yours truly, the photographer, like the rising sun, is standing at the location of that Heel Stone looking down the Avenue toward the awaiting Stonehenge sarsens and trilithons. The survey map has a main caption reading "Ground Plan of Stonehenge" and thereunder the words: "Transfered to Stone, from the Original Copper Plates, by the kind permission of J. Bruce Nichols Esq re ".
STONEHENGE ORIGINAL PLAN
Our graphic below shows how Stonehenge must have looked when all stones were intact in their places ca. 1749 B.C. by our calculations. Note that Stonehenge was a lunisolar calculating machine. The 30 Sarsens marked the moon stations in the stars, and the applicable stars are shown by figures, marks and holes in the sarsens. 10 Constellations were represented by the Trilithons along the ecliptic, with the open end of the horseshoe excluding Hydra (Cancer) and Leo toward the Sommer Solstice point. 19 Bluestones makred the Metonic Cycle. 30 "Y" Holes marked "full" months of 30 days. 29 "Z" Holes marked "defective" months of 29 days. The "new moon" month is 29.53 days, so the ancients used some form of alternation between these two rings. 56 Aubrey Holes were used for eclipse prediction based on the ca. 18.6-year cycle of eclipses x 3. The Avenue pointed toward the Summer Solstice point at the Heelstone on a line running from the North Celestial Pole through (or slighltly past) the tip of Ursa Minor and through Ursa Major, marked by the Slaughter Stone..
Choice of the Stonehenge Site by Astronomy
Gerald S. Hawkins in Stonehenge Decoded, Doubleday, 1965, writes that " Newham and Charriere . have both commented . that the latitude of Stonehenge is practically optimum for sun-moon rectangular alignment. [I]n the northern hemisphere there is only one latitude for which, at their extreme declinations, the sun and moon azimuths are separated by 90 degrees. Stonehenge is within a few miles of that latitude. "
As Hawkins notes, the replica of Stonehenge at Maryhill, Klickitat County, Washington, USA, is at the wrong latitude 5 degrees too far south, and hence the luni-solar alignments do not work properly. That is what happens when well-meaning people do not properly understand the astronomy of the megaliths.
Astronomical Seriousness of Stonehenge
Stonehenge was thus not just erected by chance as some kind of a "religious" object as erroneously thought by mainstream scholars ignorant of ancient astronomy, but was located pursuant to strict astronomical considerations. That is why the ancients transported giant stones over hundreds of miles from the quarries to this location, rather than to build their astronomical clock in situ.
Purpose of Stonehenge in Historical Writings
Diodorus Sicilus (1st century BC) writes in Book II, Loeb Library translation, concerning the "Hyperboreans" and
their royal kings and priests, the "Boreades" (Brits), as follows:
" And there is also on the island both a magnificent sacred precinct of Apollo [the SUN] and a notable temple which is adorned with many votive offerings and is SPHERICAL in shape.
They say also that the moon, as viewed from this island, appears to be but a little distance from the earth and to have upon it prominences, like those of the earth, which are visible to the eye.
The account is also given that the god visits the island every nineteen years, the period in which the return of the stars to the same place in the heavens is accomplished and for this reason the nineteen-year period is called by the Greeks the 'year of Meton'.
At the time of this appearance of the god he both plays on the cithara and dances continuously the night through from the vernal equinox until the rising of the Pleiades. "
The purpose of Stonehenge is thus quite clear from ancient writings as well as from modern computer studies of alignments, ala Hawkins.
It was an astronomical instrument erected in the Stone Age era at a specific location designed for its purpose by earth and sky.
Here is what we write
on the Index Page of megaliths.net
Megaliths.net is a systematic graphic-supported analysis of megaliths and megalithic sites around the world which shows that ancient megalithic sites are land survey sites located by prehistoric astronomy. As observed by Alice Cunningham Fletcher (Alice C. Fletcher) in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist, there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska, geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens. FLETCHER, A. C. (1902), STAR CULT AMONG THE PAWNEE —A PRELIMINARY REPORT. American Anthropologist, 4: 730–736. doi: 10.1525/aa.1902.4.4.02a00050.
The photograph that we have inserted here at the left is a photograph that includes Alice Cunningham Fletcher with Nez Perce Chief Joseph and is described at the Wikipedia as follows:
"Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Chief Joseph at the Nez Percé Lapwai Reservation in Idaho, where Fletcher arrived in 1889 to implement the Dawes Act. The man on one knee is James Stuart, Alice Fletcher's interpreter. According to Jane Gay in "With the Nez Perces" (University of Nebraska Press, 1981), Stuart customarily kneeled in this way when he felt anxious. Photograph by Jane Gay. (Courtesy Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives [MS4558]. Images from the National Anthropological Archives may not be reproduced without permission.) "
The Smithsonian image is in the public domain.
The Hermetic PAWNEE Star Lodge System
The most ancient plan of Stonehenge looks like this
(we trust that even modern archaeologists can see the similarity)
The image above is my scan of an original survey map of Stonehenge as found glued to the inside margin of page 55 of William Long 's book, Stonehenge and its Barrows , published in Devizes in 1876 from the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, vol. xvi, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. That book is still the best book ever published on Stonehenge, except for Gerald S. Hawkins, Stonehenge Decoded.
The Pawnee Star System was applied hermetically on Earth i.e. "As Above, so Below" and Fletcher's drawings show without any doubt that this same system was quite obviously used in the oldest constructions at famous locations such as Avebury, Knowth and Stonehenge, whose clear astronomical nature is still disputed by scholars lacking kno wledge. Mainstream scholars alleging that those constructions are not clearly astronomical have not done their homework, as these Pawnee drawings -- undeniably astronomical -- prove.
I have also -- speculatively -- interpreted the Pawnee Star Lodge stellar system, which is based on a four "post hole" system, just as Stonehenge above, for example. This interpretation is not as important as the recognition that the Pawnee system and the Stonehenge and other similar constructions represent the same ancient "astronomical technology", and they do so, evidence-based, on the undisputed Pawnee example.
We have studied whether the astronomy of the Pawnee was more widespread in ancient eras, not only in the United States but around the world. It was.
We have applied the "Pawnee" hermetic astronomical principle, "as above, so below" to megalithic sites around the world, for example, to the Malta Temples, and have achieved remarkable results.
We suggest that many megaliths and megalithic sites served as boundary stones and landmarks sighted (and sited) by astronomy.
Megalithic Site Name: Stonehenge
Nation/Country/State: United Kingdom, England
District/Region/Parish/County: Salisbury, Amesbury
Local Location: Salisbury Plain
GPS: 51°10'44" N, 1°49'35" W
Grid: SU 1224 4218
Monument No.: SU 14 SW 4
Unique Identifier: 219434
Directions: On the A344 off the A303, 2 miles W of Amesbury & 9 miles N of Salisbury
Site Access: English Heritage & National Trust Members admitted free. Adults £5.90. Children £3.00. Concession £4.40. Family (2 adults + 3 children) £14.80. Closed Dec. 24-26 & Jan. 1. Opens daily 9:30 a.m. (9:00 June 1 - Aug. 31). Closes 4:00 p.m. (Oct. 16 - March 15), 6:00 p.m. (March 16 - May 31, Sep. 1 - Oct. 15), 7:00 p.m. (June 1 - Aug. 31).
Administration: English Heritage, The National Trust
Protection Status: World Heritage Site
First-time users please read
the Index Page thoroughly for understanding.
This page was last updated on January 13, 2013.
All materials presented on Megaliths.net are for information only.
No other relationship under the law is established to the user.
No warranties are made regarding the truth or accuracy of postings.
We disclaim any and all liability for the consequences of links
to third party websites.
Plan of Stonehenge - History
Stonehenge: Solving Ancient Mysteries
Procedures for teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extension -- Additional Activities
Print out the student organizers for handing out during the class sessions.
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This site features a comprehensive overview of Stonehenge. Students use this site to collect facts about Stonehenge.
Students use this site to research careers in anthropology.
This site describes underwater archaeology. Students use this site as a resource to help them identify some of the tools and processes that might be needed to answer questions about an underwater excavation.
You are visiting Stonehenge on a cold winter day in January with your family. Your little sister is complaining about the bitter cold, and your parents decide to go back to the car with her. Stonehenge fascinates you, and you really want to spend some more time exploring. You convince your parents to let you stay. As you walk the perimeter, you find a small group of people huddled around a mound of dirt. There is an air of excitement about them.
"This grave is only two feet deep. It almost looks like they buried this person really quickly."
"This soil is frozen solid. It may have just been too hard to dig very deep."
"The skeleton's head is buried at his feet. I wonder if he was killed in battle?"
"It could have been some kind of funeral ritual. This area was a battlefield for a lot of invasions. Both the Saxons and the Romans fought the English on this site."
The purpose of Activity One is for students to investigate varied occupations and research tools. Small groups will share their knowledge with the entire class.
Below are some suggested sites for researching careers in archaeology and anthropology.
First option: to create a "Scientific Career Day" exhibit. This would consist of a series of booths containing information about the various occupations. The students in the booths would be required to "act" the part of their specific occupation. This might include dressing in typical clothing, preparing demonstrations of the tools, telling stories from their "experiences" in the field, or any other creative enactments. Students should be given time to browse through the different booths and ask questions about the various occupations.
Second option: create an "Interview the Expert" panel in which students ask questions about the various occupations regarding their specialties.
For either choice, each group should prepare a document identifying and describing the profession they've researched. This document should also include information about the types of questions this profession sets out to answer, the tools and methods they use to answer these questions, and on any interesting current events, e.g., discoveries, new techniques, new theories, within the field.
The purpose of activity two is to expose students to archaeological excavations, to help them gain an understanding of the tools and processes used by archaeologists and what day-to-day life is like on a dig. Students will also have the chance to contact real archaeologists via email to ask them questions about the digs.
- What were the archaeologists' motivations for joining the project? What questions did they have going into the project?
- Background information on the site/object they are excavating: When was it built? Who built it? What was going on in the world when it was built?
- What were some of the tools the scientists used to gather data on the object of the excavation?
- What were some of the techniques the scientists used to gather information?
- What is a scientist's typical day like on the excavation?
- What type of information did the scientists include in their field notes?
- What types of objects did the scientists find? How did they go about understanding what they were used for? What type of clues did they consider?
- What types of evidence did the scientists look at while excavating?
- What were some of the challenges the scientists faced during the excavation?
- What are some of the questions that are still unanswered?
The purpose of Activity Three is for students to analyze real- world applications of scientific investigation.
- A summary of the discovery and what has been learned so far.
- A list of questions that remain unanswered regarding the discoveries.
- A list of suggestions on how these questions could be investigated. This list should include clues, tools, and methods to answer these questions. If the students have trouble with this list, ask them to think about the types of evidence needed to answer their questions and how this evidence could be uncovered and interpreted.
- A list of what kinds of people would be necessary to answer the questions.
- A list of the challenges that might present themselves as these investigations proceeded.
The purpose of the Culminating Activity is for students to apply their understandings of how to use scientific evidence.
How are you? It seems like just yesterday we were studying in college together and already a year has passed! I unsuccessfully tried to contact you and finally ended up calling your parents, who told me that you had gone on an archaeological dig in England. How exciting! I've always wanted to visit Stonehenge. The newspapers reported finding that skeleton at Stonehenge with its head buried below its feet. Sounds kind of gruesome to me!
The reason for this email is that by a strange coincidence, I, too, am on an archaeological dig (my first!) in Australia and have uncovered some mysterious bones. I was hoping that as colleagues, I could try to "pick your brain"!
Here are some of the questions I have:
What questions should I set out to answer?
What initial investigative steps would you recommend we begin with?
What methods and tools do you think would be most helpful in investigating these bones?
What kind of experts do you think I'll need to call in to help?
What type of problems do you typically encounter on digs? Feel free to include advice on how to solve them:)
What does a typical day usually involve on a dig?
Thanks - I really appreciate this. This is the first dig I've ever been in charge of and I'm kind of nervous.