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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 432 times)
Bianca Markos
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« on: January 01, 2010, 07:54:57 am »

Gowland was typical of the era’s ‘archaeologists’, in that he had no particular background in archaeology. Indeed, he got the nod from Antrobus purely on the name he had made for himself in Japan, where, while he was commissioned as an expert on ore refinery, he had excavated a number of burial mounds in the central regions of Honshu. Still, despite reservations Gowland produced some of the finest detailed surveys of Stonehenge, digging carefully around many of the endangered stones and concluding that antler picks were used to sculpt many of the stones by virtue of tiny chip marks. True to his task, Gowland did make a concerted attempt at resetting some of the stones which were perilously close to sarsen 22’s fate. However, in concreting sarsen 56 Gowland did manage to move it half a metre.

The next few decades saw a glut of restorations, thanks in part to Gowland’s well-known work, but also to Howard Carter’s monumental excavations in Egypt. Private ownership ceased, with Stonehenge instead falling into the hands of the National Trust – who have since mollycoddled the site from both visitors and archaeologists, to varying degrees of contempt. A 1920 assignment by William Hawley (Stonehenge seems to have attracted an unnatural number of Williams through the ages – an indication of its spirituality, perhaps?) excavated the bases of six more sarsens much more scientifically, locating several items of interest including the outer Y and Z holes, further putting Stonehenge in a wider context. Incidentally, Hawley also unearthed a bottle of port left at the site by William Cunnington over a century earlier, in an episode both delightfully British and yet tragically unprofessional. Further work in the 1940s and 50s uncovered human artefacts such as axes, daggers and other objects.
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