New theory may explain one of Stonehenge's mysteries

Published: 3rd April 2018

Historians suggest new theory about building of Stonehenge

Historians have put forward a new theory to solve a mystery that has long baffled experts – why Stonehenge’s Neolithic builders went to the great effort of bringing some of its huge stones from 155 miles away in south-west Wales.

"In contemporary Western culture, we are always striving to make things as easy and quick as possible, but we believe that for the builders of Stonehenge this may not have been the case," said English Heritage’s Susan Greaney.

The idea is that to its builders in 2500BC, the process of constructing Stonehenge may have been as important as the site’s use, and that people may have undertaken a ‘celebration pilgrimage’ as part of building the monument.

This follows the discovery of a feasting site at the Neolithic settlement of Durrington Walls just 2 miles from Stonehenge. The theory is also backed up by a photograph taken during a stone-pulling ceremony on the Indonesian island of Nias in 1915, showing people in ceremonial dress "revelling in the seemingly arduous task of moving enormous monoliths by hand, taking part in feasts and associated dances".

In order to test the theory, English Heritage has started an 'experiential archaeology' project in which teams of volunteers will attempt to move a replica stone.