Stonehenge: A prehistoric calendar
Today, I am reporting on the latest interpretation of Britain’s famous prehistoric monument known as Stonehenge.
Information has been sourced by an article in today’s Times newspaper based on a paper by Professor Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University which was published in the Journal of Antiquity.
The analysis is based on a phase of Stonehenge dating from around 2500BC.
Darvill suggests that the grey-green ‘sarsen’ stones which were added c. 2500BC were placed in context of an initiative to mark out a calendar of 12 months each of 30 days with each day represented by one of 30 stones in a circle only some which remain. The missing five stones to take the total to 365 days are, Darvill argues, represented by 5 trilithon stone arches forming a horseshoe at the monument’s centre. Darvill also argues that the four ‘station stones’ positioned outside the sarsen circle were to add leap days.
The winter and summer solstices would be framed by the same pair of stones. One of the trilithons also frames the winter solstice, possibly marking the New Year. The alignment would help to calibrate the calendar; any errors in counting the days would be detectable as the sun would be in the wrong place on the solstices.
It is possible that the underlying concept was ultimately sourced from ancient Egypt. This was a ‘civil calendar’ developed in tandem with the growth of the cult of the sun god Ra and which was well established by 2650BC.
Stonehenge is subject to on-going academic attention which I monitor. Here are links to my previous posts on this fascinating subject: