Stonehenge the Necropolis

The first time I saw a picture of Stonehenge was sometime in the early 2000s as a small child. It utilized by my father (and I’m sure many other Microsoft users) as our clunky desktop’s background picture for many years. I wasn’t really sure what it was, it kind of looked like a set of massive stone dominoes.

I now know Stonehenge isn’t quite a set of dominoes for giants. (However, there are theories giants brought the rocks from Africa to Ireland, like Ethan mentioned in lecture today.) What really fascinated me about Stonehenge was the Aubrey holes and their uses as graves.

Professor and famed archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson was at the forefront of the Stonehenge excavation (and has been for decades). Parker Pearson has been excavating monuments and areas surrounding Stonehenge for years, and has uncovered important information and artifacts. One example of this is Parker Pearson’s excavation of the Durrington Walls, whose evidence  points to the area being used as a seasonal camp for the workers who built Stonehenge.

More recently, 50,000 fragments of cremated human remains were found in one Aubrey hole. As Ethan mentioned in lecture today, John Aubrey came across these remains spread between many of the holes, but he was not interested in them. Aubrey then placed all of the remains in one hole: Aubrey Hole 7. Crushed chalk was found in the bottom of the Aubrey hole containing the human remains, suggesting that one of the bluestone rocks was placed atop of the hole. This points to the bluestone being used as a grave marker, and further suggests the hole was used as a grave.

Currently, DNA analysis is not allowed on the remains, which Parker Pearson believes will lead to a better understanding of the Stonehenge site and culture. However, it has been discovered that the remains contain an almost equal number of males and females. They also include some children, and even a newborn baby. Parker Pearson believes the people who were buried in Stonehenge are in some way special, and I have to agree. Perhaps they were considered noble, or maybe leaders. Why else would they, in particular, be buried in a place considered sacred?

Although we are slowly collecting more information regarding Stonehenge, we are no where near having a clear picture of the site. Was it built by aliens? Unlikely. Was it constructed by magic? Probably not. Was it used as a ritual site? Evidence seems to say yes. Was it a necropolis? Well there are remains there, so it seems that way. We have some answers, but there are still many more questions. Perhaps that is why Stonehenge is so intriguing; it has an air of mystery.

2 thoughts on “Stonehenge the Necropolis

  1. I found it particularly funny how you described your first introduction to Stonehenge because that is exactly how I learned of it! That desktop picture sticks in my mind when thinking of Stonehenge because I have seen it so many times. I also found it funny that you pictured the rocks themselves as giant dominoes. That is exactly what a kid would picture. Stonehenge is much like dominoes for a kid, especially if you stacked them like a trilithon, like I did as a kid.
    Anyway, since you are writing on the Stonehenge as a necropolis, I thought I would mention how I thought it was cool that the Stonehenge represented the land of the dead while the Woodhenge represented the land of the living. The first thing that comes to mind about that is the symbolic representations. By that I mean, was it a coincidence that stones, which are nonliving, represent dead, while wood, which was once living, represents the living? I am not sure if the builders of these intended these symbolic representations but I thought it might have been a coincidence. Either way, the Stonehenge did represent some symbolic meaning. The fact that there is evidence showing it was used for ceremonial or ritual purposes makes it so much more interesting. Knowing that cremated human remains existed within the landscape forces so much more research. We can’t simply stop there, now we have to try and figure out why people were buried there and what the culture was like. I think if DNA analysis can be done on the remains, it could open up a lot more mysteries or answers. I am not sure why they have not done that yet.

  2. I find your blog post to be quite intriguing. Just like your father, my family’s computer also had the picture of Stonehenge as the background, and that is just how I learned about the site as well. It is interesting to think that these “domino-esque” figures have such a mysterious background. Like many archaeological sites, including the mounds we learned about earlier in the semester, there are many theories about their origins. While there are some far-fetched ideas involving alien action for both, I find it interesting that their uses as ritual sites seem to be the predominantly accepted idea.
    What I find particularly puzzling about your blog post is that you mentioned that DNA analysis is currently not allowed on the remnants. I wrote my blog post about the discovery of King Richard III, and in addition to typical archaeological methods used to identify the body, DNA analysis was also used. This was the key factor in making the assertion that the remains found were indeed those of the royal King. Like you mentioned, it would make sense that those who were buried in the supposed sacred Aubrey holes would be those who had some importance or are in some way distinct from common people. There must be some theories on who these people could be, and I believe that DNA analysis would be a great way to make conclusions on who they are (or who they aren’t), and I am confused as to why this would not be allowed. It may be a way to preserve the site and keep it in as pristine condition as possible, as in the case of the Chauvet cave. Hopefully in the future we will be allowed to perform more research on the site and its remains that would lead to a better understanding of Stonehenge itself.

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