In the 1960’s, when builders were excavating a parking lot near the Stonehenge site, they found four post holes that was believed to hold large pine logs. (These holes are said to be about 10,000 years old.) Ancient peoples traveling the Salisbury Plain would see these posts from miles around. Set east to west, these post holes were considered to be the first evidence of the area’s great importance.
Starting about 3100 BCE, the Windmill Hill People took the existing post holes and expanded the site. Using various tools such as deer antlers and digging stones, they dug a ditch and formed a bank, with an opening in the northeast. Call the Great Cursus, this ditch was white from the chalk underneath the grass. Outside this ditch, these people dug fifty-six pits named Aubrey Holes (after their discoverer James Aubrey). In these holes, archeologists have found cremated remains of people. One theory is that the Windmill Hill People was commemorating their Dead and their Ancestors.
Many people have assumed that the Aubrey Holes had an astronomical use. Following the phases of the moon has been important to peoples in ancient times. One theory is that these holes marked lunar eclipses. Another theory is that the Windmill Hill People were marking particular phases of the moon. Other archeologists have noticed that the Aubrey Holes were aligned north-east and south-west. These holes then lined up with the sun at the solstices and equinoxes. This has lead to another working theory that the Aubrey holes are a calendar of equinoxes, solstices, lunar eclipses, and solar events. The underlying assumption to this theory is that many early peoples followed lunar-solar cycles for practical and religious reasons.
From the beginning of Stonehenge, numerous ancient peoples have added their particular visions to the site. Each succeeding generation built on the previous one’s efforts. We modern people will never know what the original purpose to Stonehenge was, but we can stand in awe of these early peoples who built it. Whatever Stonehenge was originally intended to be, it became a monument to the vision and tenacity of the Ancestors of Europe.
Works Used:Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.
Bradshaw Foundation, “Stonehenge: The Age of the Megaliths,” 2011, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stonehenge/index.php,
M, Richard, “Stonehenge,” MEgALiThiA, 06 Jan. 2006, http://www.megalithia.com/stonehenge/index.html,
Richards, Colin, “Rethinking the Great Stone Circles of Northwest Britain,” Orkney Archaelogical Trust, 2004, http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/dhl/papers/cr/index.html,
Smagala, Suzzanne, “Stonehenge,” August 2007, http://helios.acomp.usf.edu/~ssmagala/stonehenge/index.html,