After patiently waiting for the mid-June sun to rise at Stonehenge, the builders and their visitors, spent the rest of the day preparing to watch the sun go down beneath Durrington Wall's western bank. So, if you heard it any other way, like from your TV, then you heard wrong.
1. This image is based on a photograph taken by Mark Bettles in 2002, while standing in the middle of Stonehenge’s solstice doorway between pillars 1 and 30 - The "Grand Entrance," as William Stukeley called it. This photo shows how the sun on solstice morning has surpassed Stonehenge's axis by around half a degree. It was even more than this when Stonehenge was built. According to the astronomer, the late Professor John North, first flash of the sun at Stonehenge in 2,500 BC was around 48.5-degrees clockwise from north, some one and a half degrees past Stonehenge's axis.
The cardinal points of the compass, north, south, east and west were no mystery to people of the Neolithic (New Stone Age), who pinned them down with great precision. These early people, while studying the Cosmos, became troubled by the alignments of the sun and moon which varied greatly when traveling from north to south. And as if to impose their authority upon the sun and moon, these ambitious folks set about bringing a change by simplifying the situation.
They divided the horizon into 36 lots of 10-degrees, some 3,000 years ago... And it's thanks to those early folks that Stonehenge, some 500 years later, was given an exact 50-degree axis. It's also why Stonehenge is not aligned on any of the true solstices.
As an internal device with best faces of its stones pointing inward, Stonehenge was built like a "Hall of Mirrors." Designed to capture and amplify sunlight as does a modern-day laser, the sun lines up with Stonehenge's axis when at its most powerful point and well clear of the horizon.
Later, we shall also learn of the Stone Age intention to replicate the sun by making one of their own.
Picture 1 also demonstrates how the moon exceeds the sun every 18.61-years by travelling at least nine degrees further north. The most northerly position of the moon is called the 'Major Standstill.'
So: the sun goes nowhere where the moon hasn’t already been.
2. Arminghall Henge, Norfolk, 3,000 BC, perhaps even older. This henge is less than two miles southeast of Norwich city centre, Norfolk.
Famous for having discovered Woodhenge, near Stonehenge, and taking aerial photos showing its 160-odd post positions in the shape of six eggs, Flight lieutenant Insall went looking for similar monuments to photograph and came across the henge at Arminghall in 1928. it took another five years for it to be excavated, and then only partially by some G. Clark, who failed to find any sign of burial.
The inner ditch of the henge is plain to see in the above picture by the ring of nettles that grow upon it. What a pity, though - a shame, in fact - that a garden hedge is allowed to block the view south to where the southernmost sun and moon sets behind the spur of Chapel Hill.
Professor Wainwright made great mention of this henge in his book Durrington Walls 1971 because he couldn't understand Clark's finding of Rustication-Ware pottery in such an old monument. This wouldn't matter much except 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. (Durrington Walls, mother of Stonehenge).
Clearly then, both monuments, Durrington Walls and the Arminghall Henge had be designed by a people, whilst obviously not of the same epoch, but were of the same mind!
So, whilst archaeologists today might date a monument by the pottery they find - be it Beaker, Peterborough Ware, Grooved Ware or whatever... The 'real' motives that bind it all together are based on astronomy, geometry and mensuration.
So, is its time we stopped using the term 'Beaker People' and gave up claiming they arrived too late to design Stonehenge? Some Radiocarbon dating at Durrington does prove otherwise!
My first car was a Morris 8. I now own a Peugeot 207. My next car might be a BMW. So, what are you going to call me? No rude comments please!
3. Professionals have made several attempts to establish an axis of symmetry based on Arminghall's eight timber posts, set in the shape of a horseshoe, oval, or open-ended-egg. Yet despite the fact there is no axis of symmetry to be found, got together and agreed on an azimuth of 223-degrees, (clockwise from north.) This decision produced a bias that wrongly favoured the sun over the moon.
Here we will propose an alternative solution.
Chapel Hill is the northern spur of an even 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, together with the spur, 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 (220 azimuth) with the henge.
This monument raises further the likelihood that a German tribe, possibly the Michaelsburger’s, - the 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 also made it difficult 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 have to call it that) is of course famous for its eight massive posts in the shape of a horseshoe placed at its centre, somewhat similar in style to Stonehenge's trilithons. Probably standing at least 3 metres high, the one-megalithic-yard-diameter posts of the Arminghall henge required long tapering ramps to help in their erection. Once erected, those posts were likely topped with lintels similar to Stonehenge.
As previously stated, much work has been done to figure out what this arrangement of posts actually points at, especially since the winter solstice sun could once be seen to slide down the side of Chapel Hill, from the henge, 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 - some decorated in rusticated style - and knapped flint.
4. Arminghall Henge post positions shown together with a pair of upright’s (coloured brown) to demonstrate how the alignments were made - and it’s every bit as accurate as the sights of a rifle.
At ground level, alignments between pairs of posts is tangential to their diameters, but due to the natural taper of tree trunks, a narrow gap appears between them which increases further up. Stonehenge, with its mortice and tenon and dovetail joints, which were obviously based on woodwork, took this idea on board by tapering its sarsen-stone pillars as well.
Some describe the Stonehenge tapering as entasis, named after the tapering stone columns of Greece that make pillars look taller than they really are. But the idea of tapering Stonehenge’s sarsens, which reduced top weight and helped in their erection, actually originated in Britain.
Since Arminghall's posts divide the points of the compass into 10-degree lots, it makes sense to suppose that the main alignment of the henge follows suite with this order of 10's as well. Besides, the terrain proves it!
5. Chapel Hill Spur. Thanks to the offending garden hedge, this photograph of Chapel Hill had to be taken south of the henge and is unfortunately off a little way to one side. Nevertheless, it does tell us all we need to know.
A cutting with a railway 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 equal 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 tree-line.
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.
6. Burgh Roman Castle AD 280. Those troublesome German tribes kept on coming back.
Burgh Castle is one of a chain of forts that was 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 giving little chance of escape, Roman Burgh was built to catch them out.
After some four hundred years of occupation, the Roman legions of Britain were recalled to the defence of Rome. So, it didn't take long before those tribes returned, renamed Anglo Saxons.
Lets get on with Stonehenge...
7. The front face of the Heel Stone points about 11-degrees more northerly than Stonehenge's axis, and therefore at the Major Standstill of the moon. The proof, which no one seems to have noticed, can be gleaned from John Wood’s 1740 survey of Stonehenge.
The last time the moon visited her northernmost position was way back in 2005/2006, and was an opportunity missed. The next Major Standstill will take place around the middle of 2024. The good news is that, when the time comes, she 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, photographers should get themselves off to some other monument instead - there are plenty more good targets mentioned in these pages.
In a search for further proof for the hypothesis of Stonehenge (we already know what it was!) we should be looking for ways in which Stonehenge brought the sun and moon, and the stars together in one place. That goes for all other monuments, too.
8. Stonehenge’s Heel Stone.
Note how the Heel Stone axis - that is to say - the axis normal to its front face - crosses Stonehenge's primary axis. 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 the eggs that make up the timber-built Southern Circle.
9. Before English Heritage got around 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 shown above.
With concrete posts representing what were once massive tree trunks, several feet tall, Woodhenge can be seen entering the picture from the right, whereas the snow-covered horizon marks Durrington Walls’ far bank. More of Durrington Walls' bank can be seen on the left but it’s not snow-covered. Durrington Walls' downhill slope is also 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,” found and partially excavated by Wainwright in 1966/7. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the Southern Circle was buried beneath the embankment and became lost to us when the new road was built.
Note the red vehicle on the extreme right of the above picture, because the next photo was taken from alongside it.
10. 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.
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.
11. 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. The other 50% - if it was that many - were whole pigs that attained nine-months-old in June. These pigs 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 of their age being equivalent to the human female gestation period.
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!
12. This is my photograph of the setting summer solstice sun seen from inside the Durrington Walls Henge. 21 June 2018.
13. 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.
14. The is a view looking down on Durrington Walls. 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 sets 60-Degrees anticlockwise from north, and the moon sets at 50. It's almost as if the sun and moon have swopped places.
15. Durrington Wall's timber built Southern Circle, based on a photograph taken of the TV. This picture give you an idea of the excavations, so far. But this picture, one of the first I made, gives the wrong idea that the Southern Circle is circular. But it's not, its oval.
16. 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.
17. 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 this post rotten away.
18. Durrington Walls, Southern Circle of Timber, Outer Ring A.
We can be fairly sure of the geometry of Ring A because, like its neighbour, Woodhenge, it is based on three circles and has a similar design. 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 are spread apart by two-megalithic yards.
19. While I found this egg to point 41-degree anticlockwise from north, it's more likely to be 40.
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.