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, the correlation of these sites with burial grounds and the placement of these stone monoliths as a way of depicting seasons, when Stonehenge in its final stage coexisted with older wood henges.
Were these stone monuments, in lieu of the wooden structures, simply an advancement in construction; and/or rather, construction as statement, a statement of progress and a progression from indigenous, hunter-gatherer culture into the agribusiness and a more stratified culture, a culture where more and more depended upon the commerce of a few.
All cultures have been fascinated by the heavens, by the sun, stars and moon … and would, therefore, favor the foretelling of seasons; this is nothing new, but it is not much of a leap, either, to understand how farming became a way for those few, who had the foresight and the will, to gather more land for the production of food and therefore more wealth. Stonehenge, it seems, would be a perfect way to gather and dispel information that all wanted and needed, and change the perspective of many in their gatherings at the site.
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.
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 by 2000 BC most of the forests that covered the British Isles were a memory. So much of what man calls progress ends up destroying parts of the natural world and I wonder, is it possible to change and broaden our perspective?
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.