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Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge

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Author Topic: Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge  (Read 172 times)
Bianca Markos
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« on: January 01, 2010, 07:52:33 am »

Aubrey also claimed that the site was a Druid temple, transforming Stonehenge from a forgotten relic into an enigmatic national icon. It was also the beginning of the druidic obsession with the site, Aubrey’s work shooting it into vogue and making a myriad Druid priests suddenly realise that, yes, Stonehenge is our spiritual home. This, of course, continues to this day – with thousands of pagan partygoers celebrating the monument every solstice.

Aubrey’s excavations may have been hit-and-miss, but his high profile findings sparked public and professional interest in Stonehenge. Projects were undertaken in his wake, with many vying to make their name synonymous with the site. Yet it would take until the mid-18th century for another antiquarian to stamp his seal on the stones, in the form of Cambridge old boy William Stukeley. Stukeley had a flair for publicity and a fondness for mysticism, and wasted no time in kicking off an inspiring career which saw him tackle such far-ranging subjects as debunking the Robin Hood story, writing music for the flute and producing treatises on earthquakes and medicine.

Yet during all this, Stukeley found the time to print his indelible mark on Stonehenge, making the first modern link between the site and the midsummer sun. It was Stukeley who, in two books published in 1740 and 1743, first noticed the horseshoe shape of Stonehenge’s inner circle nodding towards the solstices. Yet he would be another to blot his archaeological crib sheet with a plethora of pagan ponderings. Stukeley saw spirituality in every ancient monument, and believed Stonehenge to be a circle through which passed a gigantic serpent, visible as a series of raised mounds on the local landscape.
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