The famous 4,000 year-old circle of stones in the midst of Crop Circle country that is known as Stonehenge may not be authentic, a new report says.
Researcher Brian Edwards has discovered photographs that show fallen stones being hauled into place using cranes and scaffolding in restorations over the past 100 years. He says he has proof that virtually every stone was re-erected, straightened or embedded in concrete between 1901 and 1964.
"For too long people have been kept in the dark over the Stonehenge restoration work," says Edwards, who is a graduate researcher at the University of the West of England. "What we have been looking at is a 20th century landscape which is reminiscent of what Stonehenge might have looked like thousands of years ago. It has been created by the heritage industry and is not the creation of prehistoric people."
The major reconstructions that took place early in the last century at Stonehenge and Avebury, which is another prehistoric site of stone monoliths, couldn't be repeated at a major historical site today, he feels. "Even many of the local people in Avebury weren't aware that a lot of thestones were put up in the 1930's," he said.
The first major restoration of Stonehenge took place in 1901, when a leaning stone was straightened out and set in concrete, to prevent it from falling. More drastic renovations were carried out in the 1920's, when six stones were moved and re-erected. Cranes were used to reposition three more stones in 1958. One giant fallen lintel, one of the stones that lies on top of two vertical stones to form a sort of doorway, was replaced. In 1964, four more stones were repositioned to prevent them from falling.
English Heritage, the government group that oversees the sight, is now considering printing a new guidebook that will admit that major renovations have taken place over the years. The decision not to mention the restorations in former guides was made in the 1960's, says Dave Batchelor, senior archaeologist at English Heritage.
Brian Edwards thinks this is a good idea. "We have an obligation to be honest and talk about the whole history of a site," he says. "In quite a number of cases, there is a huge difference between what historians know and what the public consciousness is about those sites."
For the New Scientist story, click here.For the Excite.com story, click here.
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