In regard to Stonehenge, it is important for a bigger picture to consider the effect of farming cultures moving in to the British Isles, the sacrifices found at Stonehenge (one of an archer) the charred remains of people and animals (cremation of animals or food waste?), at henges made of wood in particular … the prime possibility that there was genocide, people burned at the stake (since there is evidence of charred remains at the posts holes in the wood henges) all of which could have occurred, displacing hunters and gatherers to the benefit of the agricultural community and the mining of metals. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Stonehenge in its final stage coexisted with wood henges. Were these political statements of sorts? One favoring the predominance of forests, one the elimination of these same forests for cultivation of food? Evidence of monuments to man and his beliefs can be found throughout our written history. Why not before?
All cultures have been fascinated by the heavens, by the sun, stars and moon … this is nothing new. It is also not news that powerful people require means to indoctrinate the masses to further the changes that they would like to see in society; and it is not much of a leap, either, to understand how farming became a way to gather more land and therefore more power.
We are familiar, as well, how the beliefs of indigenous cultures can be used to inculcate a system that supports the agendas of powerful people … time and time again. The hunter-gatherers were more or less nomads, moving with the wild and benefiting from the forests. Some would train wolves to guard and herd a few domesticated animals; but, on the whole, this did not take on the scale of farming methods brought in by the Europeans. It might have been a benefit, therefore, to use pagan rituals to create a system that would support the farming culture, and thus Stonehenge in its final stage, created not only to predict the changing seasons but to promote the change to farming in society through ritual and sacrifice (eg the Mayans).
Farming brought increased populations to the area because of the greater abundance of food, which then produced and required more tilled soil and less forest. So many studies make no distinction between the indigenous populations that created earlier versions of the henge in wood to the final Stonehenge created from stone. It is also interesting that attribution is not only made to the pagans, who had thrived off forests for thousands of years, but also to the “druids”,with little evidence of their existence before 200 BC; when, in fact, construction of the “stone” henge built by 2500BC, the one we see today, was a practice brought by those European farmers who immigrated to the isles during that time. It seems most likely that it was under this particular influence that the stone monuments and burial mounds were built.
By 2500 BC, metals were brought to England and then all hell broke loose. By 2000 BC most of the forests that covered the British Isles were a memory. I hardly think the culture that had practiced sustainability for thousands of years, like the indigenous peoples in Alaska and northern Minnesota would have built stone monuments that supported a practice to destroy their base.
I wonder, sometimes, if we aren’t hard-wired to destroy ourselves. Nothing else makes sense in my limited view. One thing’s for certain, if we don’t know the truth and we don’t live with our eyes wide open, we can never find a better way.
This painting is my vision of Stonehenge as a monument to the new culture of farming with the ghosts of a forest in the background as the land is cleared.