ARCHAEOLOGISTS who have spent a decade trying to unlock the secrets of Stonehenge said yesterday they believed that the stone circle was built as a monument to help “unify the peoples of Britain”.
Around 14,500 people flocked to the world heritage site on Thursday for the summer solstice, but new findings suggest that many theories about it are incorrect.
The team of academics who worked on the 10-year Stonehenge Riverside Project have now concluded that the stones symbolize the earliest farming communities ever formed with some coming from southern England and others from west Wales.
Sheffield University’s Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who led the project, said: “When Stonehenge was built there was a growing island-wide culture – the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast.
“This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries. Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labour of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them.
“Just the work itself, requiring everyone literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification.”
Previous theories have suggested the great stone circle was used as a prehistoric observatory, a sun temple, a place of healing, and a temple of the ancient druids.
The Stonehenge Riverside Project’s researchers have rejected all these possibilities after the largest programme of archaeological research ever mounted on this iconic monument.