Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of August 29th - September 4th,  2003

Stonehenge

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  Over the last few weeks, we have been examining some basics of astrology, working our way through the spring and summer zodiacal signs, and showing how this translates in both contemporary and historical terms. Homer's Iliad was thought to have actually taken place in the 12th century BC, while his work was actually composed sometime in the 8th century BC. The Exodus was also thought to have occurred in the 12th century, while the period of the exile to Babylon took place in the 6th century.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

  But if there were, indeed, sophisticated developments of astrological thought in existence in different cultures at these times, then the roots of astrology must extend even farther back, during which generations were watching and carefully monitoring the motions of heaven in order to determine these patterns and their effects.

  Stonehenge is only one of many stone 'circles' which can be found throughout the Celtic world and even here in North America. One of the more famous sites in this country is Mystery Hill, located in North Salem, NH. The chosen method of determining the age of these circles is radiocarbon dating, but unfortunately, this technique does not work with stone. Materials which have 'lived', such as wood or bone can be dated, but stone cannot. Hence, many of these sites are dated by materials found on the same level as what is being investigated, and it is assumed that the materials found there, and the level itself, are of the same period.


  Phase I of Stonehenge was basically a circular enclosure of 56 postholes outlined by two banks and a ditch, with a stone (which has come to be known as the 'heel stone') standing somewhat outside the circle by itself. It is this 'heel stone' which marks, with a person standing in the center of Stonehenge, the midsummer morning Sun rising. This alignment is 'framed' by the entrance into the enclosure, and few now doubt that the alignment is intentional.


Stonehenge today

Stonehenge today

The Aubrey Holes

The Aubrey Holes

  The period of Stonehenge which is known as 'Phase I', the oldest of which we are aware, dates to about 2950 to 2900 BC. We know this because of the red deer antlers, scoops made of oxen shoulder blades, and pottery fragments which have been found in the ditch surrounding the original 56 wooden post holes which were on the site. These holes were 'discovered' in the 17th century (AD) by John Aubrey, and since have been come to be known as the Aubrey holes. Compare Phase I with the Exodus or storming of Troy around 1200 BC, and we're having to backdate an additional 1700 years! While some have speculated that Stonehenge was originally a temple of worship for ancient earth deities, since 1965 and Gerald Hawkins' epic work, Stonehenge Decoded, it has increasingly been recognized that Stonehenge was, at least in part, an astronomical observatory for marking significant dates and times in a prehistoric calendar.

  Stonehenge is the most famous of literally hundreds of stone 'circles' still in existence. Many others have been destroyed, both by the forces of nature and man's building activity. Some remote sites continue to reside along coastlines looking out over an unobstructed sea where they can better monitor risings and settings along a consistent horizon. Each of these represent the bones of a time when a sophisticated, coordinated effort to map and understand the motions of heaven and their influences on us here on the Earth was well underway.



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