We are, in modern times, fascinated by Stonehenge.
What is it? Is it a giant observatory, a gigantic sun-dial, a sacred symbol of the eternity of our ancestors? Who built it and how, and why go to the immense effort of dragging many tons of rock from the mountains of west Wales to a place over a hundred miles away with very little ostensibly to commend it?
There are many theories, which include all of those. It has even been suggested that the stones are the skeletal remains of a vast wooden building. We believe, however, that it was meant to honour our ancestors as a permanent reminder of their existence, and a token of their continued existence.
Our logic is that Woodhenge, nearby, was made of wood – hence the nomenclature, probably – which is transient; it will rot and become one with the earth in nature’s cycle. Humans, too, die and our bodies become one with natures cycle. If Woodhenge, therefore, celebrates life, and is aligned towards the Summer Solstice, then it would make sense for Stonehenge to commemorate death and be aligned to the Winter Solstice. Further, the Summer Solstice represents the cycle of life at its zenith, the Winter Solstice at its nadir. It would also make sense were Woodhenge aligned with the sun at Midsummer and Stonehenge with the moon at Midwinter.
There is also the theory that the Presceli Bluestones, from west Wales, are healing stones. There is credence to this: the Bluestones were at Stonehenge almost from its inception. They were dragged from west Wales for some reason – after all, it isn’t easy to bring them, even down from the Presceli hills to the nearest navigable river. The place from whence the stones were taken has been known since antiquity as a place of healing; with springs spouting from the Underworld, many people to this day go there with ailments, seeking succour at least and hopefully, a cure. Whilst the springs cannot be themselves transported, the stones are a valuable proxy; besides, the energy potential of crystals is well known, and the proximity to the springs would have been enough to draw that energy. Of course, the possibility that the energy might drain on being removed such a distance is always there, but then there is always a connection with the source – one cannot completely erase that; indeed, it will always be surprisingly strong.
In any case, that that particular spot was chosen is likely to do with Old Sarum’s location at the meeting point of five rivers. Water is a very powerful element, especially to an island nation, and it is very likely that Stonehenge was built on the most convenient patch of ground not controlled by either one or another tribe. This would probably have been part of a network of sacred sites, including Avebury, and thus its location, and its proximity to the river, would have been of the utmost moment.
Stonehenge, therefore, is likely to remain a place of mystery. We can but speculate on its true meaning; nonetheless, as it gives up its secrets we will have surer ground on which to interpret them.