If I were asked to describe Stonehenge, the word “mysterious” would no doubt end up in that description. What makes this Neolithic monument so interesting and attracts thousands of tourists each year is its immense age and the mystery that surrounds it. When we talked about the great Egyptian pyramids earlier this semester, we covered some of the crazy theories that people had fabricated to explain the creation and the reason for the existence of these ancient monuments. Because Stonehenge is such a sophisticated prehistoric monument, is very old (its construction started about 5,000 years ago), and very little is known about what the stone monument was actually used for and about the people who erected it, I was not surprised to discover that many absurd theories exist today about the origins of Stonehenge.
There are some people that believe Stonehenge was built by aliens. This theory, known as the ancient alien theory, suggests that extraterrestrials visited earth during prehistoric times and impacted humankind with their incredible science and engineering skills. Believers of this theory claim that aliens had to have helped with the construction of Stonehenge because humans during this time period did not have the technology, skills, or strength to move and erect the heavy, gigantic stones that make up the monument. Erich von Daniken, the Danish author we actually learned about earlier in the semester when we talked about Egypt and the “father” of this ancient alien theory, suggested that the solar system is modeled by Stonehenge. Others believe that Stonehenge is a landing pad for extraterrestrial spaceships because it is a strong and sturdy structure that most likely is capable of holding an immense amount of weight. It is also believed that the monument is an observatory for alien activity in the night skies. The ancient alien theory believers use crop circles in nearby fields as evidence for alien interaction with this area. There is actually an episode of “How I Met Your Mother”, where Marshall references Stonehenge’s “alien origins”, demonstrating the impact that the ancient alien theory has had on popular culture today.
Another group of people claim that Stonehenge was built by the ancient people that had lived in Atlantis. One of the “leaders” of this group of people is the author Robert Langdon, who wrote the book “Prehistoric Britain: The Stonehenge Enigma”. In this book, Langdon claims that as Atlantis flooded, megalith builders from the city were forced to travel to what is now England. Once there, they constructed Stonehenge as a memorial of the now flooded Atlantis. Langdon backs up this theory by saying that two of the monument’s stones point in the direction of Atlantis, which he claims is located under the North sea in an area called Doggerland. Believers of this theory also suggest that Stonehenge’s symmetry is based off of the perfect symmetry of Atlantis, which was described by Plato centuries ago.
While there are some ridiculous theories that attempt to explain the existence of Stonehenge, many other people have suggested more realistic ways that the monument may have been used. This includes Stonehenge being a place for burial, a place for healing, a soundscape (because it has outstanding acoustics), a celestial observatory, or even a way for people to come and work together as a team to build the monument. I certainly look forward to the day when we finally clear up the mystery behind Stonehenge’s origins, debunking many of today’s existing theories and allowing us to learn more about the people that were behind the construction of this stone monument that still stands tall today.