back to article Ancient revellers came to party... and build Stonehenge - boffins

Stonehenge was actually an ancient rave spot for Brits from all over the country, new research has suggested. Stonehenge from the north east There are more theories about the origins and reasons for Stonehenge than there are stones in the monument - Ancient clock? Wiccan ritual site? Alien-built technology? Secret location …


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  1. Matthew 25

    Bring a megalith party

    Yeah, yeah, just stick them over here in the kitchen.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Bring a megalith party

      Fine.. I'll leave menhir then.

      1. MrT

        Rock and roll...

        <- steady now.

        To me.. To you...

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bring a megalith party

        I so want to downvote this for being so bad, I just can't quite bring myself to do it...

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch

          Re: Bring a megalith party

          Yeah, I know-I should be ashamed of such a dreadful pun, but given the OP's perfect setup I couldn't not use it.

          1. MrT

            Re: Bring a megalith party

            Yours might not be the worst pun in this thread, Frum... :-D

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bring a megalith party

      Yeah, bloody stone masons. Chips everywhere!

      Somebody bring the Sarcens!

  2. JimC

    I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

    I suppose a lot of it is because dumbed down TV just won't mention the detailed evidence, but I really had trouble with a lot of their conclusions... That the bluestones came out of the Aubrey holes seems highly probable, but a cemetery with exactly 56 gravestones, sorry that just doesn't work for me. It feels just to deliberately laid out. There must be something else going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

      Completely agree; the bluestones were there for some other reason. We already knew (well, strongly suspected) that the bluestones had been there a lot longer than the sarsens and that they had been moved and there's no reason to think that they might not have been moved more than once.

      The idea that over a couple of centuries you send out for a new stone from Wales when some semi-royal kid keels over from an infected cut just doesn't make any sense.

      The programme made MPP look like an idiot, which i don't think he is but that's science on TV for you: if the editor doesn't understand what you're talking about then the chances that the viewers will after watching his edits is pretty slim.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

      Yes, must agree. The leaps of logic were immense. A local archaeologist was saying a while back that neolithic archaeology is like trying being on a beach three days and six tides after a sandcastle competition and trying to say something meaningful about who did it, why and where they came from. There was also no discussion (that I noticed - I found it hard to concentrate on the programme) on the fact that Stonehenge was a johnny-come-lately to the party, with examples like the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney and Callanish on Lewis pre-dating it. If this was such a gathering place, some justification is surely in order. It's also hard to see any difference between the factual elements of the programme and the wildly speculative.

      Just let it be* - we need a bit of mystery in out lives.


      * - had a tour of the Ring of Brodgar with a local ranger once. She presented various facts, speculations about cause etc, but kept repeating "but we just don't know." Very refreshing.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

        "but we just don't know." Very refreshing." indeed. Reminds me of the "scientist" who thinks we humans have "developed" hands because we could not and would not fight without hands.

    3. Lars Silver badge

      Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

      The only evidence is that it is there. Impressive to day and much more then.

      It was built because there must have been some strong structure in the society then led by kings or priests. It took organisation and time. It was built by people with the same intelligence as our intelligence and a plan.

      And that is that, the rest is speculation. The people buried could be kings and queens, or people sacrificed to the gods or why not criminals publicly executed and perhaps eaten. That is speculating, and will remain so.

      As a new scientist, I will, however, add new research, and reveal that Stonehenge was actually built bye the Egyptians on an European sea tour. Lack of time, winter storms coming, had to leave it at that. Incidentally it was not 10 percent but about 20 percent of the population (including Scotsmen) who came to build it as they had refused to pay their tax.

      There was a program about this 5000 year old corps Ötzi, the Iceman, and the number of speculations without any proof was astonishing. We are good story tellers and we have always been. I quite like that, in fact.

    4. Corinne

      Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

      Got round to watching this last night, and my first thought was that once they had one theory then everything was based on that with no consideration of other possibilities. My assumption when I heard 63 evenly spaced bluestones with cremation burials under each one wasn't that they were sort of neolithic gravestones of important people, but that the people were killed, cremated & buried there as part of the ritual of raising the stones. Too many other assumptions as well - like saying it couldn't be priesthood because there were female remains & you don't often get mixed sex priesthoods, the clue is in the word "often".

      Mike P P has been working at Stonehenge for some years now & I saw another documentary about it a year or so ago, about then digging up the re-buried cremations. Very little of what was in the C4 documentary shown this week was new; maybe a bit of the carbon dating & DNA analysis of the cremations but everything else was old news to me.

      I've noticed a tendency in recent years for archaeological documentaries to a) present new theories as fact, b) dumb things down and c) try to cover too wide a range of data for the time allowed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

        "but that the people were killed, cremated & buried there as part of the ritual of raising the stones. "

        The problem with that theory is the carbon dates for the bodies which are spread over a couple of centuries. The bluestones and those holes were almost certainly put in place in a matter of months or at most a year or so.

        1. Corinne

          Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

          "The problem with that theory is the carbon dates for the bodies which are spread over a couple of centuries. The bluestones and those holes were almost certainly put in place in a matter of months or at most a year or so."

          That would suggest that whoever's remains it was that were under the bluestones would have to have been kept somewhere in storage over those couple of hundred years. Why the change in burial method to under stones rather than wherever it was before (presumably some kind of chamber for the remains to be recovered)? It's equally possible that the remains recovered for the purpose of being interred under the stones were ritual killings of some kind rather than people who'd been important in the past, maybe ritual sacrifice victims could be considered more important than previous ruling families.

          Basically too many unknowns, and the facts tend to be presented in such a way as to uphold the latest theory without any reference to other possibilities.

        2. breakfast Silver badge

          Re: I kept thinking "where's the evidence"

          How do we know the period over which the bluestones were put in place?

  3. Roger Varley


    Walking from Scotland to Stonehenge twice a year must be the earliest known example of the phenomenon known today as "Painting the Forth Road Bridge"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What?

      Actually, Google maps says it's 119 (non-stop) hours walking from Stone Henge to Berwick. On the plus side, Scotland used to go further south than that, on the downside, they wouldn't have had Google maps, but even taking into account a leisurely pace and resting would only have take a couple of weeks.

      Plus they'd widen the gene pool on the way, and have an awesome rave at the end of it, so not really as pointless as never-ending painting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What?

        "Actually, Google maps says it's 119 (non-stop) hours walking from Stone Henge to Berwick"

        Well, maybe today it is, but in practical terms that still three weeks each way (and Berwick's only the start of Scotland).

        Now, mentally go back to a time when there's no laws plus the prospect of hostile tribes or just ordinary robbers, no proper roads, no bridges, no worthwhile maps or navigation tools (stars if you can use them, of course), dubious levels of nutrition and hygiene, etc etc, and work out how long it would take to get from anywhere really in Scotland to Stonehenge?

        I'd be surprised if it would take much less than a month and a half to get from (say) Edinburgh to Stonehenge, the same to get home. In a subsistence society I can't see many people would have the wealth to be able to take out a quarter of the year just to go and have a monument building party four hundred miles away?

        1. Roger Varley

          Re: What?

          Actually, Berwick is the end of England, not the start of Scotland

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What?

            What have Scotland or England got to do with it? They are both relatively modern constructions whose borders have moved from North of Edinburgh to South of Cumbria in relatively recent times, with lowland "Scots" being more or less the same people as Northern English and far away from the Irish Celts who wiped out the remaining "Anctient Britons" who fled to there, Wales and the far West Country in the face of Saxon/Scandinavian colonisation etc.. Just read a bit about the borderers and try and explain why so many, most even, spanned the "border" to such an extent that they sided with each other against either King as the fancy and need took them (being finally crushed by a Scottish king of England, albeit with lots of English relatives, and French.

            No doubt a fair few Stonehenge and Avebury visitors came over from N. France and so on too, judging by finds of remains from the Swiss alps at Avebury.

            Leave the English/Scottish idiocy to Alec Salmond and UKIP and enjoy the history of us all.

        2. itzman

          Re: What?

          well of course you assume it was a subsistence society... drive your cattle down with you, and eat them on the way.

    2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: What?

      Walking from Scotland to Stonehenge twice a year must be the earliest known example of the phenomenon known today as "Painting the Forth Road Bridge"

      At least until they turn up some prehistoric charity collection boxes full of pebbles and other loose change, including at least one that's foreign or no longer in circulation. Oh and a neolithic version of Ian Botham.

  4. Gray Ham

    Glad that's all settled

    Just one of those things you do when you're drunk - mooning cop cars, building a giant stone circle, whatever ...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Glad that's all settled

      The next morning:

      Man! What a party dude! My head's killing me! What did we do last night? Did I do that thing with the sausage and the cow again? Oh shit! The wife's going to kill me! Someone must have spiked my mead. Here, hang on a minute... Bugger me! Who put all those great big stones there? Did you do that while I was asleep Ugg! This place is going to take ages to clean up, and the Druids are going to get really grumpy. And you know what they're like when someone crosses them, it's all hand me the sickle and the blood bowl... Right, I'm off before anyone notices.

  5. Mr Spock

    Are you kidding?!! We'll never get that in the kitchen. It's f***ing enormous!...

    Thag gave me a drawing that said 18 feet. Whether he knows the difference between inches and feet isn't my problem. I just do what I'm told.

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: Are you kidding?!! We'll never get that in the kitchen. It's f***ing enormous!...

      I think that the problem *may* have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument that was in danger of being *crushed* by a *druid*. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.

  6. McToo


    They call it ACIIIIIIID


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Channel 4 programme last night

    Watched it, but as mentioned above there seemed quite a few unfounded assumptions. The burials of the 56 (or whatever) 'aristocrats' seemed a wild stab in the dark to me - equally the bodies could have been from randomly selected members of the community who were sacrificed (men, women and children) and then cremated and buried 'with honours' - who knows.

    Quite interesting though - just not as interesting as I thought it would be.

    PS. Was I the only one to have images of an army of ginger haired muppets in lab coats when they mentioned the 'invasion' of the beaker people :-)

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Was I the only one...?


    2. bastage42

      Re: Channel 4 programme last night

      *looking at the giant stones* ... "And what do you call it?"

      "The Aristocrats."

    3. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Channel 4 programme last night

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    "..Glastonbury Festival and a motorway building scheme at the same time."

    So a load of Neolithic types trying to build a monument and another load of less well kempt and rather smellier ones trying to stop them then?

    Have they found evidence of tunneling and Neolithic riot shields?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Things never change....(for those who watched the programme)

    4000 years it really happened.

    Neo1- "Rocks are great aren't they"

    Neo2 - "Yup, you can't beat a big bit of stone to workship"

    Neo1 - "Who's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?"

    Neo2 - "Nah, looks like a muppet in a lab coat...oh hang on, not it isn't. Not sure."

    Beaker - "Hiya, still worshipping rocks I see?"

    Neo1 - "Yeah, and what of it? Rocks are great man"

    Beaker - "Oh yeah - have you seen THIS?"

    Neo1 - "Whoa! WTF is that?"

    Beaker - "We call it the iSword - it's made of copper. It's the all new sword design. Shiny isn't it?"

    Neo1 - "Shiny! It's the shiniest, blingiest thing I've seen since I ate those funny mushrooms a couple of years ago"

    Beaker - "It's all the rage with the 'i-crowd'. You should get one"

    Neo1 - " Sold. Forget this rock rubbish, I need bling."

    Neo2 - "Me too - all hail the i-thing"

    Neo1 - "Oh, by the way, does it make for a good sword - you know, hard, not bendy, etc?"

    Beaker - "Nah. It's pretty shit to be honest. We're hoping to merge it with something better later. But forget about that - just look at the shine".

  10. Identity

    Well, of course...

    being a Yank, I haven't seen said show, and cannot comment. I do remember, however, some years ago, a dig that showed there was a wooden Stonehenge twin (Woodhenge?) a short distance away.

    But what do I know? I wasn't there...

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Well, of course...

      There was a straw one too but only the Henge made of stone survived the wolf's huff and puff

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Well, of course...

        I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your henge down!

        Sounds a bit like a dirty euphemism to me...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm pretty sure I read/heard all about these theories a year or two back .... is there anything new now other than a Channel $ documentary. I suppose we should be glad its Ch4 and not BBC as then we'd have had to put up with a weeks worth of new items on Today prog, Ten o;clock News etc on how "the BBC can exclusively reveal that ...." followed by "... and you can find out more about this story in Horizon on thursday"

  12. Jim Carter

    There were similar theories on Silbury Hill.

    That said, I've always wanted to penetrate Brodgar's Ring.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There were similar theories on Silbury Hill.

      Obligatory response:

      "How does Brodgar feel about your desires?"

  13. Arachnoid


    Well I was going to berate myself for missing it but obviously by the comments my time was better spent sacrificing a sheep to the TV Gods.

  14. Ralph76
    Thumb Down

    Ancient Nick Knowles?

    So what you are saying here is that this was the first DIY SOS: The big build?

    I just dont buy it. IF 10% of the nation (at the time) attended, as far flung as Scotland (before the kingdoms united I hasten to add) this had to be a pretty big affair.

    I think something more significant occured than that....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you look... that photo, squint, cant your head to the right by about 30 degrees, then blink quickly, you can see Jesus!

  16. Chris G

    They were only there for the beer!

    My family come from Hampshire,Wiltshire and Dorset, have lived there for centuries and I can tell you according to family lore Stonehenge is an ancient pub site.

    An eons old cider, mead and ale quaffing meeting place in the centre of Southern England, the skeletons buried at the base of the blue stones are simply patrons who either couldn't pay or couldn't back up their drunken gobs.

    Why do you think the Beaker folk were there? No glasses in those days, it was bring yer own drinking horn or beaker, the horns have rotted away leaving only the beakers to be found.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    another of those massive erection stories

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. asdf

    Stonehenge is impressive for ancient buildings but this imho still is more amazing. If for no other reason it was as old when Stonehenge was built as Stonehenge is today.

  20. Donald Becker

    An early version of Burning Man?

    The 'giant party' theory resonates with me.

    Many camps at Burning Man put months of effort into art pieces that will be burnt or dismantled at the end. A handful of people are practically full time burners, working only enough at a paying job to fund what they need for their Burning Man art exhibit.

    The result is an amazing experience that entices people to return year after year and build ever-larger art works. (Or, for others, to have another go at a week long live-in clothing optional rave.)

    That same drive must have existed back then: who can resist a giant annual party with a pseudo-religious justification?

  21. Stevie


    And where are they now, the little children of Stonehenge? And what would they say to us If we were here tonight?

  22. Don Jefe

    Government Project

    It was obviously a government program meant to stimulate the economy but it went off the rails & was never completed.

    All the signs are there:

    -Too large in scope

    -Poor materials sourcing

    -Unreliable temporary workforce

    -Long commute times for full time staff

    -disconnect between management and operations

  23. Andus McCoatover

    Always wondered why Stonehenge was constructed where it was.

    Any Ideas, folks?

    Oh, and how it became to be so damaged. Unfortunately, one speculation - an invasion of the Finnish.

  24. Great Bu

    Elephant in the room....

    The fact that there were 50,000 bone fragments from 63 bodies suggests to me that there is a very obvious conclusion that seems to have been missed:

    Stonehenge was where prehistoric britons used to go to explode.

    Obvious really.

  25. Writebaby

    Let's Party

    So basically they all got really drunk one night and someone said, "I have got a good idea!"

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