back to article STONEHENGE: Attack of the RAYGUN HISTORIANS

Laser-toting historians have found that Stonehenge was architecturally rigged to show off the solstices. Stonehenge from the north east The UK government's adviser on the historic environment, English Heritage, used 3D laser scanning tech to analyse the pillars of Stonehenge, with results that back up the idea that the …


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  1. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Ancient Britons

    Building a better clock app than Apple...

    1. Stratman

      Re: Ancient Britons

      Some of those stones do have suspiciously rounded corners.

      Any Druids fancy a lawsuit?

    2. Mips

      Re: Ancient Britons

      The problem is that Stonehenge was rebuilt by the Victorians and of course remodelled in the process. So how much is real archolocical information and how much Victorian imagination is yet to be revealed.

  2. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    still seems funny to me

    Why did they care about the solstices back in the year dot? Yes you needed to have a rough idea of seasonality for farming purposes but they would have that easily just by watching the sun every day. But no, they have to drag these huge stones all the way from Roswell or somewhere. Doesn't pass the smell test.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: still seems funny to me

      Well, of course, they were primitive and unsophisticated people.

      Nowadays we'd never do anything like spend billions creating an enormous building on, say, the Prime Meridian, just for something as trivial as the year having three zeroes in it....

    2. Graham Dawson

      Re: still seems funny to me

      "Watching the sun" is exactly what these stones were built to do. They had to be accurate (or accurate enough) and they had to be permanent in order to provide a known quantity.

      The summer solstice wasn't really that important as summer was a time of bountiful supplies of food. Devices like Stone Henge were built to collect the timing of the winter solstice, for both an agricultural and a religious reason.

      The agricultural reason was quite simple: they had to have a point from which to count the days until planting began. It was their farmer's almanac and set the seasonal calendar without reliance on the moon.

      The religious reason was a little more esoteric. It was the fairly commonly held belief that the winter solstice was the time when life hung in the balance, and not merely in terms of the cold and shortening of food supplies. The days were getting shorter and shorter, the nights getting longer and longer, and there was a very palpable fear that the sun might just decide not to come back next year. They had to know with absolute certainty that the days were getting longer, and they had to know when that change began, in order to time the big week-long celebratory feast. Similar religious practices are found throughout Eurasia, especially in the more northerly areas, and defined much of the form and function of Christmas (and no, before anyone claims it, christianity didn't coopt the old religious practices to trick or ease pagans into converting: converts to the new religion simply carried on their old feasts with new names, to the great dismay of the religious leaders of the time).

      This is all well-known and has been for some time. What this particular study has done is directly verify that which was already known from other sources.

      Still won't convince all those nellies that thing Stone Henge was built to measure the summer solstice and use it as an excuse to dance around in their underpants, but what can you do?

      And now back to my little Florentine adventure. Ho the Medici! I require more culturally attuned steak!

      1. John Deeb

        Re: still seems funny to me

        "It was the fairly commonly held belief that the winter solstice was".

        Yes and we know all about the beliefs from 5000 years ago examining what.....?

        A safer bet would be that art and religion were nearly the same and so it might be just Art for God's sake. It seems that WE utilitarian modernists like to project way too much functionality unto the quite often rather bizarre and pointless undertakings of our own and our fellow human beings.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: still seems funny to me

        "This is all well-known and has been for some time."

        There's quite a lot of circumstancial evidence from the monuments and the surrounding landscape to back up some of it, but most of it's pure speculation derived from; "What might our ancestors have been thinking when they built this?". Falls under the general category of "Ritual use", or "No idea, but this is as good a guess as any." in plain English.

    3. IR

      Re: still seems funny to me

      Presumably they already had smaller versions that they calibrated over the years and then built a big one that aligned with them. Not beyond reason that they also added up the days it took to do a full cycle and used that for every day planning. Some people seem to think that the huge Stonehenge was their only way of knowing the calendar, which would be absurdly awkward.

    4. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: still seems funny to me

      Maybe they enjoyed studying astronomy!

      Just because we don't know about them, doesn't mean *they* were ignorant.

  3. NomNomNom

    This is BS why don't they consider the possibility that aliens might need to know the solstice too? perhaps they need it for navigation.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Sir Clive Sinclair's

    Mk1 calculator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's Sir Clive Sinclair's

      demonstrating the marvels of the silicon chunk

      ( cf pTerry )

  5. ukgnome Silver badge

    Everyone knows that Stonehenge is an anagram of Honest Gene.

    Further proof that the Aliens are the true architects of mankind

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Smudge: Well, of course, they were primitive and unsophisticated people

    Sorry, I had to call you out on that one. They may not have known what you know, but they were certainly not primitive, or unsophisticated.

    You'd be primitive and unsophisticated if we could timescoop you back to their time.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: @Smudge: Well, of course, they were primitive and unsophisticated people

      Instead of calling me out, I recommend you turn on your sarcasm detector :)

      I've been round sites from Stonehenge to Stenness, so I'm well aware of their knowledge and skills. Prefer Avebury to Stonehenge, though.

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        Re: @Smudge: Well, of course, they were primitive and unsophisticated people

        I agree - Avebury is far superior, you can clearly see how the alien craft were guided and eventually landed.

  7. Graham Dawson

    And nobody is quoting... THAT SONG.

    I'm so depressed.

    1. Captain DaFt

      @Graham Dawson

      "What do you want to do with your life?"

      "I WANNA ROCK!"

      Feel better? [Ducking and running]

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sort of:

      When my gf saw the picture in this article she immediately said "18 INCHES?!!"

  8. Will 19


    Considering some of the stones have been moved slightly to securely concrete them in and large amounts of the thing was rebuilt in 1901 and then again in 1958... I'm surprised they found any alignment.

  9. jonfr

    Why the solstices idea

    I find the idea that Stonehenge is about solstices to be less interesting then it is fact. Based on the fact that axial precession changes the location of the sun during solstices every few thousands years. The location of the sun today during solstices is not the same as it was 5000 years ago when Stonehenge was built according to the idea.

    I have a idea on what Stonehenge might be copying. Rather then being (maybe?). But it is classified as above top secret for now. It is also above 50 levels more complex then what readers of this news sites normally understand. As most just understand beer, boobs.and football.

    Yes, yes. I am going to be hated for this comment. But I do not care about it. I have bigger things to deal with now.

    1. Grikath Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Why the solstices idea

      You mean those people with the jacket waiting by that van? They're your friends, trust me..

    2. bitten
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Why the solstices idea

      Why should the precession change the location of the solstice? Was north in the south in older days?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why the solstices idea

        Precession doesn't change the sunrise/sunset solstice horizon points, but besides precession there is also an obliquity (tilt) variation of 2.4% over 40,000 years, and that would change the horizon point, a little. Not sure 5000 years would be enough to make a detectable difference using stony optics tho...

      2. moiety

        Re: Why the solstices idea

        TL;DR The pole wobbles around in a circle of 23.4º every 26,000 years.

      3. Miek

        Re: Why the solstices idea

        "Why should the precession change the location of the solstice? Was north in the south in older days?" -- It has been know to be :

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Why the solstices idea

      Really why not! Have you noticed how all openings in modern buildings worship the horizon? It was probably just a custom.

      As a farmer I'm convinced these places are merely (?) abattoir/tannery/markets - almost every element of them has a use in the process somewhere, or at worst an abstraction of an idea from the process.

      I don't know why we have to label every last thing we don't know the function of as a ritual object.

      And just in case your wondering every abattoir or butchers I've ever been in has decorations and fripperies. Doesn't make them temples.

      Except the steak and ale pies in one I know are good enough for jehova.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Mike VandeVelde

      "I am going to be hated for this comment."

      ... or simply ignored because of being totally empty of any useful or interesting content, and in a dickish way. Keep it up. Or not.

  10. Mr Young

    I guess

    It's always been uplifting to know the shortest day of Winter has passed?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I guess

      That's why there is some kind of celebration around that time...

      As H.P. Lovecraft wrote....

      "I was far from home, and the spell of the eastern sea was upon me. In the twilight I heard it pounding on the rocks, and I knew it lay just over the hill where the twisting willows writhed against the clearing sky and the first stars of evening. And because my fathers had called me to the old town beyond, I pushed on through the shallow, new-fallen snow along the road that soared lonely up to where Aldebaran twinkled among the trees; on toward the very ancient town I had never seen but often dreamed of.

      It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind. It was the Yuletide, and I had come at last to the ancient sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival in the elder time when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons to keep festival once every century, that the memory of primal secrets might not be forgotten. Mine were an old people, and were old even when this land was settled three hundred years before. And they were strange, because they had come as dark furtive folk from opiate southern gardens of orchids, and spoken another tongue before they learnt the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers. And now they were scattered, and shared only the rituals of mysteries that none living could understand. I was the only one who came back that night to the old fishing town as legend bade, for only the poor and the lonely remember."

  11. James Boag
    Thumb Up

    re : I guess

    Living in Scotland I agree,

    we all you forwards to our two days of summer up here, and it only rained on one of them last year :) .

  12. Goes to 11
    Thumb Up

    Nigel Was The Smart One

    Nigel Tufnel: In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. fridaynightsmoke


    It's quite clearly the supports for an ancient elevated roundabout.

    1. SiempreTuna

      Re: Idiots!


      It was Wembley for an early form of Quidditch.#

      All the smaller stone circles (everyone knows Stonehenge is not a henge) were training grounds.

  14. Graham Marsden

    Of course we all know...

    ... that really it was just there to mark the location of the Pandorica...!

  15. Paul 129

    The wonder of Stonehenge

    Is how the hell it got through the planning process!

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: The wonder of Stonehenge

      That's easy, they told the planning board it was a temporary structure...

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: The wonder of Stonehenge

        Maybe it's art?

        Planners: "An enormous monumental structure in an area of outstanding natural beauty? You're 'avin' a laugh mate."

        Applicant: "It's art."

        Planners: "Oh, right. Carry on as you were then."

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