We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.
A New Look at the Astronomy and Geometry of Stonehenge
Recent authoritative work by Ruggles on whether there were significant astronomical and calendrical alignments built into Stonehenge in the third millennium BCE has concluded that the evidence for accurate alignments is minimal and that there is none for sophisticated astronomical practices, nor for any kind of calendar. Whether sophisticated geometry was used in designing the site is not discussed. I will review the relevant evidence – previously discussed by Hawkins, Thom and Atkinson – in the light of both Atkinson’s accurate on-site surveys in 1978 and Hawkins’ photogrammetric survey. It will be argued that these data allow us to infer that important lunar and solar alignments were built into the rectangular formation of the Station Stones, and into the main axis of the site. Moreover, geometrical constructions – and the use of at least one standard length unit – have been postulated for the Station Stones and the sarsen circle these ideas too are investigated. It seems that these two aspects of prehistoric intellectual skills – astronomy and the calendar, and geometry – are closely interwoven at this site, and that this emerging picture has broad implications for our understanding of Neolithic society.