The astronomy, geometry, mensuration, biology and purpose, of Britain’s most famous monument. (And who most likely built it!)
I took this picture in 2001 while standing on the exact axis of Stonehenge, between Stones 1 and 30. Where else would a researcher stand when wishing to prove a point? Standing anywhere else would prove nothing!
Early farmers living in the south of England, treated Britain’s extensive Chalk Massive like a vast whiteboard on which to scribe their designs. That is how Stonehenge started, just three circles of pure white chalk, appearing through lush green grass. The circles were complete except for two causeways, the largest pointing northeast to the most northerly risings of the sun and moon.
The centre-point of those circles was chosen to be in-line with where the summer sun rose out of a distant peak in the middle of June. But early folks were not content with this alignment for having an odd 48.5-degree angle from north. To correct it, a pair of massive timber posts were stood on the innermost circle (The Aubrey Circle) to force the sun to conform to an exact 50-degree azimuth. These two posts fixed the axis of Stonehenge for all time.
Next, a piece of high ground, a mile or so to the northeast, to what is known today as Larkhill, was recognised as a suitable place for several more timber posts with which to track the moon and determine its most northerly position. This turning point, not unlike a terminus, occurs every 18.61-years, and is known as the Major Standstill. However, whilst the 18.61-year standstill is near enough, it is not dead accurate, and the Stonehenger’s knew it.
So a further 54 posts were added to the Aubrey Circle to represent the 56-year frequency of the moon - the time it takes for the moon to return to the same place from where it started. Even this is not dead accurate, but never mind! Because we now have a fabulous piece of theatre designed to bring the sun, the moon, and the stars of the Southern Cross, which were still visible from Wiltshire 5,000 years ago, together in one place.
Here we will hope to prove to you that Stonehenge was built by a people who believed the sun to be male, the moon to be female, and the stars to be potential children. This alone should tell you what Stonehenge was likely to be.
This site deals with just about everything that our ancestors got up to that made them think they might have a way of guaranteeing them the three essentials of life - Food, water, and heat. Food, in the form of staples they could grow, water was plentiful. All they needed was a second sun to keep them warm in wintertime. It was not that difficult, surely? Or so they thought!
As stated, the above picture was taken while standing in the middle of Stonehenge’s solstice doorway between pillars 1 and 30 - "The Grand Entrance" - as William Stukeley called it. The photo shows how the sun has surpassed Stonehenge's primary axis by some distance to the north. According to the astronomer, Professor John North, first flash of the sun in 2,500 BC was 48.5-degrees clockwise from north - a full 1.5-degrees past Stonehenge's axis.
I could not understand why the sun in the above picture appears so far to the left of the Heel Stone, so I wrote to Wessex Archaeology and asked if they could explain why the sun is not quite where it ought to be. Well, that was at least 15 years ago, and I now know why. Stonehenge is not perfectly aligned on any of the solstices - not the summer or the winter.
And this is why....
Being greatly troubled by the way astronomical alignments differed when they travelled from north to south, our ancestors divided the horizon into accurate 10-degree lots as long ago as 3,800 BC. And that is why Stonehenge's axis points 50-degrees from north - at least one-degree short of the prehistoric solstice. Stonehenge captures its sunlight when our most important luminary is well clear of the ground!
As a proven internal device with best faces of stones dressed and pointing inward, the sarsen and bluestone building was designed to operate like a "Hall of Mirrors." People hoped to light-up the whole of Stonehenge in the same way as the sun lights up the Back-stone of Avebury's Cove - see photo later. This leaves us wondering - did they know they were adopting modern-day LASER techniques? AND why should it be beyond our modern imaginations to realise that people wanted Stonehenge to burn!!
My picture is also used to show how the moon, every 18.61-years, travels about 10-degrees further north than the sun. So the sun goes nowhere where the moon has not already been.
Forget "The Man in the Moon" rubbish. Stonehenge used the Larkhill Causewayed Enclosure and its timber posts to track the moon's northerly progress to her most northerly position.
So, at first use, the Aubrey Holes held timber posts, not stones. Those posts were subsequently replaced by bluestones, which we are told sat on the bottom. Next, the bluestones were plucked out of the ground to be replaced by human cremations fetched from pyres placed alongside the exit of Durrington Walls' timber-built Southern Circle.
Furthermore: The Stonehenge we know of today was not necessarily the original; Stonehenge Mark 1 was found alongside the river Avon in 2005. However, if both monuments can be shown to have been built around the same time, we might more accurately call them - Stonehenge A and Stonehenge B.
3. One of the monuments that set the 10-degree standard: Arminghall Henge 3,150 BC.
Less than two miles southeast of Norwich city centre in Norfolk, this henge set prehistoric standards that others had to follow. Its principles were adopted at Avebury, Stonehenge, Woodhenge and, as we shall see, a whole host of others.
Having discovered Woodhenge, near Stonehenge, Flight lieutenant Insall went looking for more monuments and discovered the Arminghall henge while flying over it in 1928. But It was another five years before it was excavated, and then only partially by some G. Clark, who, incidentally, found no sign of a burial.
Whilst pretty much flattened these days, the inner ditch of the henge is plain to see by the ring of nettles growing upon it. What a pity, though, a shame in fact, that a garden hedge can block the view south to where the southernmost sun and moon set behind the spur known as Chapel Hill. I have lost count of the vistas that were available to Stone Age man which have become blocked off. Some of these blockages must be deliberate!
Professor Wainwright made great mention of the Arminghall Henge in his book 'Durrington Walls 1971', because he could not understand the discovery of Rustication-Ware-type-pottery in such an old monument. This would not matter so much were it not for the fact that Wainwright also found rusticated pottery - some of it Beaker - when excavating the Durrington Walls Henge in 1966/68 - a much later monument.
Charcoal found together with Beaker sherds, and tested twice by Carbon14 to make sure, the western bank of the Durrington Walls Henge was built by Beaker Folk in 2,650 BC. Then, around 2,500 BC this massive henge became Stonehenge's mother. Stonehenge, which was started around 3,000 BC, was independent before that.
Clearly then, Stonehenge, Durrington Walls, and the Arminghall Henge, were designed by technologists who, whilst obviously not of the same epoch, were of the same mind.
So, whilst archaeologists today might date a monument by the pottery they dig up - be it Beaker, Peterborough Ware, Grooved Ware, or whatever... what really binds Britain's monuments together, are the technologies of astronomy, geometry, mathematics, mensuration, and human biology. Reproduction, that is!
4. Professionals have made several attempts to establish an axis of symmetry based on Arminghall's eight timber posts in the shape of a horseshoe, oval, or open-ended-egg. Yet even though there is no axis of symmetry to be found, got together, and agreed on an azimuth of 223-degrees, (Azimuth = clockwise from north.)
Here we will propose an alternative solution.
Chapel Hill is the northern spur of a greater hill that runs south from it. A careful study of this hill and its southerly terrain has shown that three peaks manage to appear above and to the sides of the spur when viewed from the henge. Two of these peaks produce a pair of notches in the horizon through which the southernmost sun and moon come to ground when viewed from the henge. A third notch forms a 40-degree west-of-south alignment (Azimuth 220) with the henge.
This monument raises further the likelihood that a German tribe, possibly the Michaelsburger’s - those inventors of long-necked beakers - entered the country via Yarmouth and the river Yare. The Michaelsburger's went missing when the Rhine changed its course and left their mountain retreat exposed and separated from their land, made it impossible to tend their crops.
I would have to call the Arminghall Henge - the Woodhenge of Norwich - after Woodhenge near Stonehenge. However, one does wonder what the original builders called it, especially since the archaeological term ‘henge’ converts to Womb – believe it!
The Arminghall Henge (we still must call it that) is of course famous for its eight massive posts in the shape of a horseshoe placed at its centre and is somewhat similar in style to Stonehenge's trilithons. Probably standing at least 3 metres high, the near one-megalithic-yard-diameter posts of the Arminghall henge were so heavy they required long tapering ramps to help in their erection. Once erected, those posts were likely topped with lintels to stabilise them, again, like Stonehenge.
As previously stated, much work has been done to figure out what this arrangement of posts points at, especially since the setting winter solstice sun could once be seen to slide down the side of Chapel Hill, as if to take a drink from the river Yare.
Timber posts apart - the central area was found to be clean of debris with no trace of a grave. Not so the ditch, which contained copious amounts of charcoal, broken pottery, and lots of flint.
5. Arminghall Henge post positions shown together with a pair of upright’s (coloured brown) to demonstrate how those alignments were made. And it is every bit as accurate as the sights of a rifle.
At ground level, alignments between pairs of posts are tangential to their diameters, and that is what mattered. But due to the natural taper of tree trunks, a narrow gap also appears higher up which made sightings easier.
Since Arminghall's posts divide the points of the compass into 10-degree lots, it is logical to assume that the main alignment of the henge follows suite with this order of 10's as well. Furthermore, the terrain proves it does!
Hot off the press 23 June 2020. 20 pits found by archaeologists to surround Durrington Walls' Henge at great distance, and announced in the media on the 21st, can be shown to be placed to respect the cardinal points north, south, east, and west as at Arminghall. - Image shown elsewhere on this site. Those 20 posts also divide the horizon into 10-degree lots. Whether its setting started out egg-shaped or not, is anyone's guess.
6. Chapel Hill Spur. Thanks to the offending garden hedge to the south of the Arminghall henge, this photograph had to be taken further south and is unfortunately off a little way to one side of the monument’s axis. Nevertheless, it does tell us all we need to know.
A railway cutting passes right through the middle of the spur these days, and as this cutting is approached from the west, an embankment matches it in height. The embankment, seen on the right and below a distant roof-top through a gap in the trees, prevents the sun from reaching ground level and the river Yare these days. (Have they no respect?)
Of greater importance is a distant landmass that just manages to appear over the top and to the left of the peak of Chapel hill that the 40-degree alignment of the monument points at. This landmass can be seen beyond the row of telegraph poles and through another gap in the treeline.
It is hard to make out in this photograph, but the busy A47 passes over the third landmass to the left of the Chapel Hill spur, and this is where the southernmost setting of the moon will come to ground in 2024.
Stop press. This is something I wrote and forgot about in my 2007 book 'Stonehenge Secrets'. (Sorry but it is out of print): - Far bigger than Arminghall, a setting of timber posts, 24 in all, and designed on similar principles, was found not far from Norwich at a place called Godmanchester. Presumably discovered because of gravel extraction, Godmanchester and its cursus has been dated to 3,800BC. I would like to do a follow-up on Godmanchester, especially if I can wrest its co-ordinates from the authorities.
7. Burgh Roman Castle AD 280. Those troublesome German tribes kept on coming back.
Burgh Castle is one of a chain of forts built along the east coast of Britain to keep German tribes out. This one was built alongside the River Waveney - a contributor to the Yare.
After sailing up the Yare for several miles, those visitors from the Rhineland hoped to avoid capture by taking a left fork along the Waveney, instead.
Craftily hidden from view until the very last moment, and to give little chance of escape, Roman Burgh was built to catch them out.
After nearly four hundred years of occupation, the Roman legions of Britain were recalled to the defence of Rome. And, it didn't take long for those German tribes to come back. But, by then they were called Anglo Saxons.
8. Stonehenge's Heel Stone.
Standing like an antenna pointing at the moon, the main face of the Heel Stone points some 11-degrees more northerly than Stonehenge's axis and therefore aims at where the moon rises out of the Larkhill Causewayed Enclosure. The proof of the Heel Stone's alignment is to be gleaned from John Wood's highly accurate 1740 survey of Stonehenge. No wonder the Heel Stone stands in its own circular ditch.
The last time the moon visited her northernmost position - named 'The Major Standstill' by Alexander Thom, was way back in 2005/2006, and was an opportunity missed. The next Major Standstill will therefore take place late 2024. The good news is that, when the time comes, the moon will stick around for a year or more and, weather permitting, should put in a showing or two.
Hopefully, photographers will be allowed to enter Stonehenge during the many unsociable hours needed to get those pictures of the northernmost moon. But I doubt it. If not, you photographers get yourselves off to some other monument instead - there are plenty more good targets in these pages.
In our search for further proofs for the hypothesis of Stonehenge, we will be looking for more ways of bringing the sun, moon and a star, or stars, together in one place.
This seems like a good time to advertise my book Stonehenge 1740 AD. Available on Amazon.
The book is a complete transcript of John Wood's "Choir Gaure, vulgarly called Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, described, restored, and explained; in a letter to the Right Honourable Edward, late Earl of Oxford, and Earl Mortimer."
John Wood, famous architect of the City of Bath, took 800 measurements to produce the first truly accurate plan of Stonehenge.
John's imperial measurements were converted to megalithic yards before plotting on them on CAD to produce the plans shown in the book.
Surveyed before the fall of the fourth trilithon, John's highly accurate plan of Stonehenge has never been bettered.
The Old-English F's in the text are replaced by modern S's to make the book easier to read.
9. Stonehenge’s Heel Stone.
Note how the Heel Stone's axis - that is to say - the axis normal to its front face - crosses Stonehenge's primary axis and the 49-degree solstice of the Neolithic.
What better way could there be for bringing the sun and moon together? We find the same principle in operation at Durrington Walls where the incoming solstice crosses the axes of several timber-built eggs that the Southern Circle is composed of.
10. Durrington Walls: Mother of Stonehenge; seen with the Moon-egg, Woodhenge.
Before English Heritage got round to placing its vastly over-exaggerated and false information boards alongside Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, visitors to the more obvious Woodhenge site, would often ask, “Where is the massive henge known as Durrington Walls?” Both monuments are pictured above.
With concrete posts representing what were once massive tree trunks several feet tall, Woodhenge is seen entering the picture from the right.
The snow-covered horizon marks Durrington Walls’ far bank.
Durrington Walls' western bank, some of which the Beaker Folk built, can be seen on the left, but it’s not snow-covered.
Durrington Walls' downhill slope is made obvious in this photo.
The snow was left behind by the ‘Beast-from-the-East’ - a cold snap that came across from Siberia in 2018.
Durrington Walls’ near bank, or what is left of it thanks to many years under the plough, is just beyond the line of parked cars. This too is marked with snow.
Beyond the trees to the right of the picture can be seen another section of Durrington Walls' bank. This too is highlighted with snow. Cutting through those trees is the Countess Road, built in 1965. This new highway is elevated several feet above the pan-shaped valley, or combe, which early folk had cordoned off to build Britain’s largest henge.
Note the blue farm vehicle parked beneath the embankment of the new road because that vehicle very nearly marks the centre of the timber monument known as the “Southern Circle”.
Professor Wainwright uncovered the Southern Circle - which we now know to be several eggs - in 1966/7 when conducting excavations in advance of a new road which replaced the old one, due to several accidents . Unfortunately, Wainwright's partial excavation of the Southern Circle, two-thirds of it, is now lost to us beneath the embankment of the new road.
Note the red vehicle on the extreme right of the above picture, because the next photo was taken from alongside it.
11. The old road, little more than a track, can been seen to pass over Durrington’s denuded bank, before taking a dip through the centre of the valley, or combe.
Much of Durrington Walls has been completely flattened due to many years under the plough. This was fortunate in some ways because loosened chalk and hill-wash colluvium has covered the monuments lower down and protected them - especially so the Southern Circle of timber. Prehistoric remains at the top of the combe that lost this protective cover, were not so lucky.
Imagine for a moment what the above landscape would have looked like when Durrington Walls' was new. A ten-feet-high bank, made of gleaming white chalk taken from an 18-foot-deep internal ditch, blanked out most of the sky in the above picture.
Now note the footpath in the right foreground, because a little further along it is where the next photograph was taken from.
12. The henge and the Southern Circle of timber was connected to the river Avon via an avenue of hard-packed chalk and flints. The river can be seen behind the van and through the trees that grow on its banks. My impression of the Avenue is superimposed on top of the photograph and gives one the idea that something was meant to exit the henge by sliding down and into the river.
The Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2003 found five houses alongside this avenue, everyone of them was covered over and buried beneath Durrington Walls' bank. These houses were small affairs measuring approximately 6 by 6 megalithic yards. Their positions are marked in the above picture with small splodges of snow, which can be seen behind row of trees.
Hoping to solve the age-old mystery of when folk had gathered to celebrate at Durrington Walls - i.e. was it summertime or winter - Britain’s top archaeoastronomer Professor Clive Ruggles of Leicester University, was invited to take sightings to find out exactly what the Avenue points at.
Clive proved the Avenue's axis to aim at where the sun sets in June beneath Durrington’s north-western bank. This also agrees with that found by the astronomer, Professor John North, sometime previous to 1996.
About 50% of the pigs found at Durrington Walls arrived as carcasses of meat intended for feasting and celebrations and were destined to be slaughtered as the sun set beneath Durrington Walls' western bank at the close of summer solstice day. These pigs were sacrificed to the sun and moon because their age, being equivalent to the human female gestation period of nine months.
If you want a job doing right, do it yourself. So, on solstice day 21st June 2018, you might have seen me standing close to the blue tractor which marks the position of the Southern Circle, while I waited for the summer sun to set.
It came as a bit of a shock to find that the sunset can no longer be seen from the position of the Southern Circle because of bushes growing alongside the old road. So, a hurried leaping of a few fences was made to get into a better position.
I did manage to get a beautifully clear picture of the sun going down beneath Durrington’s north-western bank, but this alone was not enough to help determine the azimuth of the Avenue. The final determination was achieved by superimposing the sun's position onto both Professor Wainwright's original plans and satellite images from on-line Bing.
The sunset at Durrington Walls is a spectacle that must be seen. Especially so for the feeling you get when climbing out of the henge to find its still daytime!
13. My photograph of the setting summer solstice sun seen from inside the Durrington Walls Henge. 21 June 2018. A beaker burial, dated to 2,650BC was found to the left of the sun seen here.
Permit me to tell you what happened to the Stonehenge dead. Apart, that is, from one inhumation placed on Stonehenge’s secondary axis.
The Stonehenge elite were cremated inside the Durrington Walls Henge on funeral pyres placed alongside the timber egg known as the Southern Circle.
When cool, the bones were separated from the ashes and taken the 1.8-miles to Stonehenge, whilst the ashes were placed inside a ‘Midden’ attached to the northeast side of the egg.
Professor Wainwright believed the Midden to be ceremonial. He also believed it to be too large, (6.7m by 12m) to have been roofed. Especially since it lacked a central post to support one. So it was not a house.
The midden was full of black ash a third of a metre thick and held almost 50% of the total beaker pottery sherds found on the site. The people who built the midden clearly felt that it held the spirits of the dead. The ash was carbon dated but the late date is cannot be trusted because archaeologists turned corrupt a few years before Durrington was excavated.
Having placed the spirit-rich ashes of the dead in the midden, it was hoped those people’s spirits would search for the whereabouts of their bodily remains, and in so doing, give life to Stonehenge.
After helping to fertilise the timber egg, those spirits left the Durrington Walls Henge via the downslope avenue that leads directly down to the River Avon, first passing over a Sex-Pit containing a female pelvis of natural flint, several pairs of balls and erect penis of flint like the type found at Stonehenge. Then, guided along by the Avon, those spirits picked up the start of the Stonehenge Avenue by locating ‘Stonehenge A’ - otherwise known as Bluestonehenge. Then, following the Stonehenge Avenue, which, by its very shape, is proven to represent growth - those spirits finally arrived at Stonehenge B – the monument that causes all the arguments!
Meanwhile, the last rays of the setting summer solstice sun, which also performed the function of fertilising the egg by slicing right through it, continued down the summer solstice-aligned avenue, crossing over the Sex Pit and turning the river red. Meanwhile, the Midden’s spiritual contents were poured through a break in the shell of the egg. All at the same time as people were chomping on nine -month-old piglets brought in from all over the country!
Like Avebury’s West Kennet Avenue of stone, the River Avon to prehistoric folk, was an umbilical cord.
Is this just supposition I don’t think so!
One final thought: On the problem of broken pottery. Imagine smashing a beaker and placing one sherd in the midden and a matching sherd at Stonehenge. Neolithic folk are famous for shifting stuff around.
14. Durrington Walls' Southern Circle is actually a collection of eggs. The axis of those eggs are represented above by coloured arrows. The axis of the outer egg, in this picture, is show black: Egg B axis is shown green: Egg D axis is aqua: A 'Possible' Egg C is shown blue. Red is the incoming solstice. The solstice axis passes centrally through the large exit posts and the 'Avenue' but not central to the Southern Circle itself. The whole point of this arrangement was to cause the solstice to cross and cut through every one of the egg-axes for the purpose of fertilising them.
The so-called ‘Sex-Pit’ found in the middle of the Avenue held a female pelvis of natural flint together with a male phalli and a pair of flint balls. As far as I am aware, an in-situ picture showing these male and female artefacts together, has never been published. And for obvious reasons!
It could be argued by many, me included, that the avenue leading to the river has long been expected to exist. Professor John North for another, when in 1996 he wrote - The distance between the centre of the Southern Circle and the river is 200 megalithic yards.
15. The is a view looking down on Durrington Walls from the river Avon. We have already mentioned that the sun rose approximately 48.5-degrees clockwise and set 48.5-degrees anticlockwise from north at Stonehenge, and that's because Stonehenge overlooks a relatively level horizon. (Altitude less than half a degree.)
However, the summer sun sets much earlier when viewed from the Southern Circle at Durrington Walls for having to look uphill at it by some 4-degrees. Seen from the 'Avenue,' the sun, obeying the 10-degree rule, sets 60-Degrees anticlockwise from north, and the moon sets at 50. It's almost as if the sun and moon have swopped places.
16. Durrington Wall's timber built Southern Circle. Based on a photograph taken of the TV, this picture gives you an idea of the excavations, so far. But this picture, one of the first I made, gives the wrong impression that the Southern Circle is circular when it's not, it is oval.
17. Another early picture of mine. Importantly, this image proves the posts of the Southern Circle to be placed in families of three. And that's what makes it so very difficult to determine the underlying geometry and astronomy of the eggs that Durrington Wall's Southern Circle/Oval was based on.
A vital discovery is the finding of a clear break in the outer circuit to the north-east. That break is at the very point where a midden, replete with beaker and other pottery sherds, plus numerous animal bones, axes and flints, were found together in a mass of burnt ashes and charcoal a third of a metre thick.
This midden, packed with stone age ingredients appears like an eye dropper that patiently waits to dispense its fertile contents into the circle at the time of the setting summer sun.
Archaeologists accept that the Southern Circle is connected to Stonehenge; first by the avenue that links it to the river Avon, then along the river til it reached a circle of stones situated on the north bank of the river, near to the town of Amesbury.
This circle of stones, known as the 'West Amesbury Henge' was the original Stonehenge. Stonehenge MK1.
18. This ground-plan-view of Durrington Walls' Southern Circle of timber, produced in CAD, is bang up to date and is as good as I can make it. Note how the solstice axis, being central to the Avenue and exit posts, causes it to slice through the axes of all three eggs.
Posthole 139 was cut into when the massive exit post next to it was erected. Post 139 was therefore the older of the two. A beaker sherd was found when139 was excavated and was just as likely to have been deliberately placed in its hole as not, because it was partly protected by a compacted chalk block platform.
Once again we are reminded of archaeological resistance to the very idea that beaker people might have designed Stonehenge, when Wainwright suggested that this sherd probably fell into 139's hole when the post rotten away.
19. Durrington Walls, Southern Circle of Timber, Outer Ring A.
We can be fairly certain of the geometry of Durrington's Southern Circle Ring A, because, like its neighbour, Woodhenge, its design is very similar. Above we see a pair of 46 MY circles with centres spread apart by one-megalithic yard. Woodhenge Ring A is similar, but there a pair of 47 MY circles have a spread of two-megalithic yards.
20. Durrington Walls' Southern Circle consists of at least three eggs, all pointing in slightly different directions, and every one of the axes of those eggs are crossed by the solstice. But let's leave Durrington for a while and return to Stonehenge. Please press the Continued Button.