Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stonehenge Evolved Over Centuries of Earth Changes

by Milky Way Maid

In an article titled “On Decoding Hawkins' 'Stonehenge Decoded'” Immanuel Velikovsky tackled the twin problems of whether the alignments of the stones on the Salisbury Plain in England are accurate today or were accurate in ancient times. He responds to two Gerald Hawkins articles which appeared in the December 1965 issue of American Scientist and a 1964 issue of Nature.

Hawkins believed that the ancient peoples of Britain were fearful that the Sun might go out of control and that they were also capable of building an astronomical computer. Hawkins believed that the 56 'Aubrey holes' were intended to chart and predict lunar eclipses. He assumes that the secret of Stonehenge is that they knew of a 56-year long eclipse cycle. Stonehenge was not built to predict solar eclipses.
Besides the 56 holes for this supposed eclipse marker, there are or were 30 holes for a Y ring, 29 holes for a Z ring, and 59 holes for bluestones that are no longer there. Hawkins says he tested these alignments of holes on a computer to identify possible connections to observing celestial bodies.

Well, actually, with so many holes and [possible configurations of these holes, there are just about an infinite number of possible target stars or heliacal rising markers open to us. The article comes up with 27, 060 possible alignments in this structure. Hawkins says that astonishingly, there were no detectable correlations to the Stonehenge markers.

Not to Arcturus, Sirius, Canopus, Betelguese, Spica, Vega or any other number of major stars.

A guidebook still current in 1967, written by R.J.C. Atkinson and published by the British government, says: “It is commonly believed that on 21st June, when today large crowds gather to see the dawn, an observer at the center of Stonehenge will see the sun rise immediately over the Heel Stone, and that it will cast a shadow of the top of the Heel Stone on the Altar Stone. Neither of these widely held beliefs is correct. Today the midsummer sun rises appreciably to the left of the Heel Stone, and when Stonehenge was built it rose even further to the left; it will not rise over the Heel Stone for more than thousand years.”

Atkinson was rather incensed that Hawkins allowed an unpardonable two degrees of arc in accepting alignments. Two degrees is roughly equal to four diameters of the sun or moon. Atkinson says that anyone with a pair of sticks can can fix the rising or setting sun within 5 MINUTES of arc. Atkinson says that this means the Heel Stone could be moved as much as 12 feet and not affect any of Hawkins' claim.

Atkinson also blasted away Hawkins supposedly rediscovered alignments by showing that out of the 8 alignments Hawkins supposedly found for Stonehenge III, four were outside acceptable limits, two were for fallen stones, and one would presumably have been blocked by they Slaughter Stone when upright.

And by the way if you astrologers out there never heard of a 56-year cycle for solar eclipses, that's because there isn't one. There is a 65-year cycle, in periods of 19, 19 and 27 years.

So Velikovsky comes in and declares that Stonehenge, rather than being a complete failure as an observatory, is instead an obsolete one. And therein lies its value as a clue to the skies as experienced by the ancients.

So instead of abandoning their enormous investment of time and labor, the ancients 'recycled' the stones into a series of other arrangements on the hill in a continuing attempt to get it right. Atkinson then posited a series of stages of development. If you live in Britain, perhaps you are already familiar with this sequence, and perhaps too you have an opportunity to test the present stones against possible alignments.

(You may wish to print out a layout of Stonehenge as it stands today, courtesy of Harvard, at Also this site has not only the current layout but all the older, now unused holes, too:

Period One. The first construction was the bank and the ditch, the Heel Stone and the Aubrey holes. That's all. Seems pretty minimal, but simplicity is a virtue. All you really need is a marker stone, and some other indicator of where to stand.
Period Two. About 150 years later, Atkinson claims, the site was remodeled, and this involved moving the massive bluestones from 130 miles away in the Prescelly Mountains in Pembrokeshire. At least 80 stones were arranged in a double circle in the middle of the site, arranged like radiating spokes. This was a radical redesign because it had a new axis. The entrance was on the northeast, and opposite it is a large pit for what must have been a huge stone. Atkinson believed, however, that this new design was not completed.

Period Three-A. The double circle is dismantled. Those stones were put on one side, and the huge sarsen stones were put in their place after being dragged from their source in Marlborough Downs. These sarsen stones are the ones so widely photographed and imitated with sites like Carhenge, etc. The center of this circle is not the same as the circle in Period One.

Period Three-B. About 20 of the dismantled bluestones were re-shaped and arranged in an oval. The remodelers apparently wished to use the other 60 bluestones to mark the Y and Z designs. The bluestones in the oval were demolished again and the whole design given up.

Period Three-C. We come at last to the final construction of Stonehenge as know it today. The upright bluestones in the oval were converted into a horseshoe shape. The undressed bluestones filled out the circle, between the sarsen horseshoe and the sarsen circle. The Altar Stone, the tallest one, was presumably set as a tall pillar in front of the central sarsen trilithon but has since then fallen down.
Atkinson believes that the latest stage of Stonehenge construction was completed by 1400 BC.

Velikovsky believes that the ancients kept trying to remodel the site “to conform to the changed orders of the world.” He also states that “the last change in the celestial order took place in the beginning of the seventh century, actually on March 23, -687” (BC). He is not impressed with the dating of antlers found under one of the stones and in a fill site. Antler material is unreliable and it has been shown to be easily contaminated, according to the Radiocarbon Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania.

Today the equinoxes still draw a large crowd to Salisbury or to Avebury, though it sure seems like they just come to party and not to make any astronomical observations.

Let us hope that this article will dispel some of the erroneous assumptions of Stonehenge's function and age. There is still plenty of room for discussion on what the orientation of the site may have been at any era of its history, and we should focus on that. More recent articles in the press dismiss Stonehenge as merely a funerary site for honored members of the clan. While significant sites often are endowed with the bones of powerful members of their society, I think it would be silly to think that any society would go to so much trouble just for a cemetery.

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