Stonehenge built as a symbol of peace and unity, British researchers suggest
The creation of the mysterious monument and the culture built around it suggests Stonehenge was thought as a symbol of unity in late Neolithic Europe, British researchers say.
The mysterious structure of Stonehenge may have been built as a symbol of peace and unity, according to a new theory by British researchers.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
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"There was a growing islandwide culture — the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast," Parker Pearson said in a statement, referring to the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland. "This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries."
By definition, Stonehenge would have required cooperation, Parker Pearson added.
"Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labor of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everything literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification," he said. [Photos: A Walk Through Stonehenge]
The new theory, detailed in a new book by Parker Pearson, "Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery" (Simon & Schuster, 2012), is one of many hypotheses about the mysterious monument. Theories range from completely far-fetched (space aliens or the wizard Merlin built it!) to far more evidence-based (the monument may have been an astronomical calendar, a burial site, or both).
The Culture of Stonehenge
Along with fellow researchers on the Stonehenge riverside Project, Parker Pearson worked to put Stonehenge in context, studying not just the monument but also the culture that created it.
What they found was evidence of a civilization transitioning from regionalism to a more integrated culture. Nevertheless, Britain's Stone Age people were isolated from the rest of Europe and didn't interact with anyone across the English Channel, Parker Pearson said.
"Stonehenge appears to have been the last gasp of this Stone Age culture, which was isolated from Europe and from the new technologies of metal tools and the wheel," Parker Pearson said.
Stonehenge's site may have been chosen because it was already significant to Stone-Age Britons, the researchers suggest. The natural land undulations at the site seem to form a line between the place where the sun rises on the summer solstice and where it sets in midwinter, they found. Neolithic people may have seen this as more than a coincidence, Parker Pearson said.