This is Why Stonehenge is Such a Big Deal
This is Why Stonehenge is Such a Big Deal

This is Why Stonehenge is Such a Big Deal

Tim Flight - January 24, 2019

This is Why Stonehenge is Such a Big Deal
Stonehenge was carefully arranged so that the sun rises at dawn exactly here at the Summer Solstice. AOL

1. Whoever built it had a phenomenal knowledge of astronomy and mathematics

Discounting the above for obvious reasons, there are many convincing theories about the function of Stonehenge. Burial ground, ceremonial site, temple, astronomical calendar: it is all of these things at once. But a final, mind-blowing thought before you go: the people who designed Stonehenge had an incredible knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. Aligning the stones to the precise location of the sun rising at the Summer Solstice and setting at the Winter Solstice would have required years of observing the skies. Given the various stages of building and redesign, this was not the work of an individual or a fluke.

Research published in 2005 also sheds light on the advanced mathematics behind Stonehenge. The landscape archaeologist Anthony Johnson used computer analysis to determine that the chalk pits around it form a 56-sided polygon, laid out using square and circle geometry. The builders first used a rope to mark a circle, then laid out two squares to make an internal octagon, and from there the huge polygon was formed. This is all evidence of significant planning and knowledge, and erecting the stones would have required calculations on weight and the angle of the surface. All this, 2, 000 years before Pythagoras…


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Burl, Audrey. John Aubrey & Stone Circles: Britain’s First Archaeologist, From Avebury to Stonehenge. Stroud: Amberley, 2010.

Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Trans. by Lewis Thorpe. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977.

Henry of Huntingdon. Historia Anglorum: The History of the English People. Ed. and trans. by Diana E. Greenway. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

Kennedy, Maev. “Bones found at Stonehenge belonged to people from Wales.” The Guardian, August 2, 2018.

Kennedy, Maev. “Stonehenge may have been Burial Site for Stone Age Elite, Say Archaeologists.” The Guardian, March 9, 2013.

Keys, David. “Stonehenge Builders had Geometry Skills to rival Pythagoras”. The Independent, May 26, 2008.

Oliver, Neil. A History of Ancient Britain. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012.

Parker Pearson, Michael, et al. “Craig Rhos-y-felin: A Welsh Bluestone Megalith Quarry for Stonehenge.” Antiquity 89, no. 148 (December 2015): 1331-52.

Parker Pearson, Michael. Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery. London: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Pitts, M., et al. “An Anglo-Saxon Decapitation and Burial at Stonehenge”. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 95 (2002): 131-146.

Richards, Julian C. English Heritage Book of Stonehenge. London: Batsford, 1992.

Richards, Julian C. Stonehenge: The Story So Far. London: Historic England, 2017.

Youens, Arabaella. “Sold for £6,600 in 1915: The Surprising Modern History of Stonehenge.” The Daily Telegraph, June 21, 2018.