I have always been intrigued about Stonehenge and other Neolithic sites like Newgrange, which we saw when we went to Ireland over spring break this year. When we went to England for the Labour Process Conference one year, we visited Stonehenge and the stone circle at Avebury on the “stones and bones” tour hosted by Astral Travel. (Astral Travel has, unfortunately, gone out of business; they were a great tour company.)
What I find most the most fascinated about these sites is the way that we ascribe meaning to them and the way that these monuments seem to be living, fluid things over time. Visiting these sites is a powerful experience, but not only because touching or seeing something so old is awe-inspiring. They are powerful experiences because of the meaning we haul with us, and the wide range of possibilities they represent.
Lately, Stonehenge has been in the news because there’s been a recent excavation of the site. The excavation, run by professors Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright (famous archeologists), is wrapping up and their “findings” are all over the net today. They have theorized that Stonehenge was a healing place that attracted people from all over Europe. They found in various graves some stone chippings from the henge, which they speculate were used as amulets of healing and protection (how D&D is that?).
I think the excavation was sponsored by BBC and the Smithsonian Institute. BBC has a great website devoted to the project. It includes day-by-day video clips of the dig. It’s fascinating stuff. And Smithsonian.com has a great article detailing the dig. It includes wonderful photographs of Stonehenge. Interestingly, the dig was “blessed” by modern day druids before they began.