What’s big, heavy, ancient, and instantly recognizable when you see it? Stonehenge!
This man-made wonder has puzzled enthusiasts and archaeologists for centuries, with no firm consensus over why it was constructed.
Well, according to a new study, Stonehenge may actually have been an ancient solar calendar.
What does recent research say about Stonehenge?
Stonehenge may have actually been erected to serve as a calendar that kept track of the sun’s movement across the sky throughout the year.
Apart from making Stonehenge more advanced for its time than a smartwatch, this new suggestion also implies a prehistoric link to sun worship in the eastern Mediterranean.
According to a study published in the journal Antiquity, the largest stones of Stonehenge located in the southwest of England may, in fact, be a solar calendar with 365¼ days for each year – which is not too far off from the 365.2425 days that make up the modern solar calendar.
Stonehenge’s chronologic function has been suspected for some time
To be candid, this is not a particularly new idea. After eliminating many of the wildest theories about the origins and function of Stonehenge over the years, experts had already begun to suspect it was some sort of clock or calendar.
However, none of the existing theories could convincingly explain how the whole setup would have worked.
Fortunately, and thanks in large part to a better understanding of the ancient site, this new research throws more light on the issue to make the theories more convincing.
What has the new research team discovered about Stonehenge?
According to Timothy Darvill, a professor of archeology at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom and author of the study, Stonehenge was primarily aligned to the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – that’s December 22 on the modern calendar – which is when sunset and sunrise occur at its southernmost points, resulting in the shortest day and longest night of the year.
Darvill’s research hinges on the fact that by aligning Stonehenge to the solstice and then using it as a reference to count the days in a year, our ancestors could accurately reflect the yearly seasons and solstices for many centuries.
Today, the main circle of Stonehenge is made up of 17 large stones that are called sarsens – stemming from the medieval English word “saracen” which meant Arabs but later on came to denote anything pagan.
However, the gaping sockets in the ground are compelling proof that the main circle was actually comprised of 30 sarsens. Possibly, the missing stones were hauled away to serve more pressing purposes in other projects like road building and building construction.
According to the new theory proposed by Darvill, the sarsen circle reflects a “month” or cycle of 30 days. Each year would comprise 12 months in total to make 360 days. These 360 days would be followed by five “epagomenal” days designated by the five massive “trilithons” or stone pairs topped by a third stone, located inside the main circle.
Two of these trilithons are now missing or fallen, but that has no bearing on their function while they stood.
What about leap years?
It seems the Stonehenge engineers considered leap years, too.
According to the new study, the four-year period between leap years may have been designated by the four “station” stones located in a rectangle outside the circle. Only two of those station stones remain today but you can infer the original number from the sockets left behind.
Couldn’t Stonehenge just be a bunch of rocks?
Well, maybe, but most of the sarsens were quarried at a single site not too far from Stonehenge around the same time that it is believed to have been erected.
There is definitely credibility in the idea that these stones were specially constructed and designed to stand and work together to achieve a particular goal or function.
What that goal or function is continues to be a source of intrigue and interest.
What do you think Stonehenge’s true origins are?
What do you think about Stonehenge and its origins? Share your theories below and don’t forget to share this piece with your curious friends and family!