Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Moving Stonehenge

Now do not panic, this is not about a daft scheme dreamed up by some contemporary government department, or conservation body or the road transport lobby - it is about what appears to have happened long, long ago...

Not having much knowledge about prehistory I tend not to pay that much attention to reports about it, but I do make exceptions for sites like Stonehenge and Avebury. They are, after all, very much part of our continuing identity, and acquired a place in myth and folk lore millennia after their creation. In the case of Stonehenge and its environs they continue to attract archaeological investigation and interpretation and I have posted about some of that research in recent months. These posts can be seen at Stonehenge - a continuing revelation and Stonehenge - re-assessment and re-evaluation

The latest interpretation is really very remarkable indeed - not that stones were quarried in what is now Pembrokeshire and moved to build Stonehenge, which is well known, but that a monument made of the blue stones was created in the Preseli hills, then dismantled and transported to be the beginning of a new cultic centre at Stonehenge. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth century story of Merlin magically moving the monument to its present location may by accident, or who knows, ancient folk tale may be more accurate than one tended to think.

The articles about the report on this research can be seen at Dramatic discovery links Stonehenge to its original site – in Wales from The Guardian,  at Stonehenge: Did the stone circle originally stand in Wales?
from the BBC News site and at Stonehenge may have been made from a dismantled Welsh stone circle from the MailOnline

Evidence for the importance of Stonehenge as a place presumably of continuing pilgrimage or cultural contact from the European continent came back in 2010 with reports about burials in the area of individuals at the complex who had not been brought up in Britain. Not only was one - the Boy with the Amber Necklace - from the Mediterranean and the otther - the Amesbury Archer - from the Alpine foothills but they clearly were of relatively high status, and something like 800 years apart in date. These reports can be seen at Bronze Age teenager buried at Stonehenge 'had travelled to visit site from the Mediterranean' and at Stonehenge boy 'was from the Med'.

I would merely add to the accounts given in those three articles that this once more indicates a highly sophisticated religious and political social organisation that could not only create such monuments with their attendant astronomical and scientific basis, but could then decree and arrange its transfer to a completely new site. No mean achievement.

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