New dig suggests Stonehenge was built to align with summer and winter solstice

September 10, 2013 by Bob Yirka, weblog

Stonehenge. Image: Wikipedia.
( —New excavations conducted by English Heritage appear to confirm a theory that suggests that Stonehenge was built where it was because of natural land formations. Researchers for the team report that new excavations near the huge stones have revealed that natural ridges beneath parts of the embankment that leads to Stonehenge, known as the Avenue, point to the summer solstice in one direction and the winter solstice in the other. This suggests, the team reports that Stonehenge was built where it was because it aligned with important solar events.

The new dig came about as the road that crosses the Avenue has been closed, allowing for excavations beneath where it ran. The A344 road was built right over the top of a portion of the Avenue near the circular mound that surrounds Stonehenge. That part of the Avenue was destroyed as a result, but the researchers wondered if there might be anything beneath the road that might offer clues as to why the Avenue and Stonehenge were built where they were. Closing the road, permanently, allowed the researchers to remove its surface to examine what lie underneath. There they discovered fissures that had developed naturally due to ice-age melt causing ridges to form. Those ridges, as it turned out, just happened to point to the in one direction and the in the other. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that the Avenue lay along the same lines as the ridges, suggesting that the people that built the Avenue and Stonehenge chose the site because of its unique .

Though this new evidence strongly supports the idea that Stonehenge was built where it was because of its association with the solstices, it still doesn't explain why the people that built it did so, or why they went to such great lengths. Researchers with English Heritage suggest that this new information suggests that the monument wasn't built as a means of worshiping the sun, but more as a testament to how special the location was to the people that lived in the area at the time.

As an addendum to the study, the researchers also report that they've identified three holes that appear likely to have been the resting spot of other stones, suggesting that the monument was once fully round. The holes had not been seen before because they'd been covered in green grass. Recently, problems with watering led to some of the grass dying, most noticeably over the holes, allowing for their discovery.

Removing A344 is part of a renovation project that aims to allow visitors to see the monument in a more natural state. Eventually grass will be planted over the parts that were once covered by the road and a visitor center will be erected at a distance to far to be seen by tourists.

Explore further: Stonehenge was ancient rave spot, new theory says

More information: via The Guardian

Related Stories

New Yorkers marvel at 'Manhattanhenge' sunset

July 12, 2012

New Yorkers gathered at dusk to witness "Manhattanhenge" -- a rare alignment of the sun with the east-west street grid in which it appears to set between skyscrapers.

Stonehenge gets millions for major makeover

November 19, 2010

(AP) -- Stonehenge is getting a multimillion-pound (-dollar) grant that conservators say will help restore some dignity to a World Heritage site blighted by busy roads and cramped facilities.

'Blue Stonehenge' discovered

October 6, 2009

( -- Archaeologists have released an artist’s impression of what a second stone circle found a mile from Stonehenge might have looked like.

Recommended for you

Rare fossil bird deepens mystery of avian extinctions

November 13, 2018

During the late Cretaceous period, more than 65 million years ago, birds belonging to hundreds of different species flitted around the dinosaurs and through the forests as abundantly as they flit about our woods and fields ...

Violent crime rates rise in warmer winters

November 13, 2018

As global temperatures climb, warmer winters in parts of the country may set the scene for higher rates of violent crimes such as assault and robbery, according to a new CIRES study.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.3 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2013
So this article could have had the headline.. new evidence supports long held beliefs about stonehenge... because as a child 30 years ago it was thought stonehenge was built for the soltices.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2013
What is the meaning of Stonehenge?

5 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2013
The four points of the Stonehenge major/minor summer and winter solstice form a rectangle. Were Stonehenge located either further north or south they would form a parallelogram. Obviously the architectural requirements of Stonehenge demanded a rectangular observational point.
not rated yet Sep 10, 2013
Well if it were further north or south it's shape would be an ellipse, no?
not rated yet Sep 10, 2013
These people are saying that the terrain of the area BEFORE STONEHENGE WAS BUILT already had features that indicated compass points of interest.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.