alternative viewpoints

Alternative approaches to Stonehenge seem to centre on three main points - Druids, Astronomical alignments and Legends, though by no means does this cover all the contentious ground between traditional archaeology and alternative archaeology!


Stukely's picture of a Druid

one of the commonest things believed about Stonehenge is that the Druids built it. This association of Stonehenge with the Druids in popular culture began with the visionary painter and poet William Blake , who strongly influenced William Stukeley, a key Stonehenge antiquarian, when writing Stonehenge in 1740.

The modern Druid movement does not seem to claim to be the builders of Stonehenge - see the Druid FAQ.


It is unlikely. The question of who built Stonehenge remains one of academic debate, yet the theory that most historians find acceptable is that since carbon-14 dating places the construction of Stonehenge before the rise of Druidism, they did not build it. [...] The connection of Stonehenge to Druidism came during the eighteenth-century romantic revivals of Druidism.


is based on the principle that the movement of the stars and sun and moon would have been very important to a clock and calendar-less society where planting crops with the seasons was vital. Therefore it would be expected that sight-lines between stones, or between stones and prominent land-markers, would give a sight-line to significant astronomical events.

Stonehenge has at least one obvious astronomical alignment - the building's main axis of symmetry is aligned with a line joining the summer sunrise/winter sunset. Many more astronomical alignments featured in the 1965 book by the American astronomer Gerald Hawkins titled Stonehenge Decoded, and the Scottish engineer Alexander Thom proposed a whole field of megalithic astronomy (in articles from 1954 onwards) taking into account the changing position of some of the stars over the intervening thousands of years. Indeed, one possible use of this was to discover how old megalithic remains were by working out at what time in the past a megalithic sightline matched up with a star or other celestial event. This is made harder by the fact that such changes are very slight - minor measurement errors could give dating errors of thousands of years.


One of the commonest legends is that it was definitely built by the Druids, as who built Stonehenge is unknown!

Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of England, linked Stonehenge with the legendary King Arthur, and the magician Merlin is said to have transported some of the stones all the way from Ireland.

  1. The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake, ed. David Erdman, Doubleday, Rev 1988, ISBN 0-385-15213-2, p171 (Jerusalem: To the Jews)