Here we go
For decades the official Stonehenge guidebooks have been full of
fascinating facts and figures and theories surrounding the world's
greatest prehistoric monument. What the glossy brochures do not mention,
however, is the systematic rebuilding of the 4,000 year old stone
circle throughout the 20th Century. The restoration has been kept
elusive and a large percentage of vacationers sitting in their hotels in London, planning a trip to the monument, have no idea that they aren't getting the full story.
This is one of the dark secrets of history archaeologists don't talk
about: The day they had the builders in at Stonehenge to recreate the
most famous ancient monument in Britain as they thought it ought to look.
This picture shows workers on the site in 1901 in a restoration which
caused outrage at the time but which is rarely referred to in official
guidebooks. For it means that Stonehenge, jewel in the crown of
Britain's heritage industry, is not all it seems. Much of what the
ancient site's millions of visitors see in fact dates back less than 50
From 1901 to 1964, the majority of the stone circle was restored in a
series of makeovers which have left it, in the words of one
archaeologist, as 'a product of the 20th century heritage industry'. But
the information is markedly absent from the guidebooks and info-phones
used by tourists at the site. Coming in the wake of the news that the
nearby Avebury stone circle was almost totally rebuilt in the 1920s, the
revelation about Stonehenge has caused embarrassment among
archaeologists. English Heritage, the guardian of the monument, is to
rewrite the official guide, which dismisses the Henge's recent history
in a few words.
Dave Batchelor, English Heritage's senior archaeologist said he would personally rewrite the official guide
'The detail was dropped in the Sixties', he admitted. 'But times have
changed and we now believe this is an important piece of the Stonehenge
story and must be told'. Cambridge University archaeological archivist
and leading Stonehenge author Christopher Chippindale admitted: 'Not
much of what we see at Stonehenge hasn't been touched in some way'.
And historical research student Brian Edwards, who recently revealed
that the nearby Avebury Monument had been totally rebuilt, has found
rare pictures of Stonehenge being restored. He said: 'It has been as if
Stonehenge had been historically cleansed'. 'For too long people have
been kept in the dark over the Stonehenge restoration work. I am
astonished by how few people know about it. It is wonderful the guide
book is going to tell the full story in the future.
A million visitors a year are awe-struck as they look back in time into
another age and marvel at the primitive technology and muscle-power
which must have been employed transporting the huge monoliths and
raising them on Salisbury Plain. They gasp as they are told about this
strangely spiritual site.... mankind's first computer, its standing
stones and precise lintels, lining up magically and mysteriously with
the heavens above and the solstice suns.
But now, as if to head off a potential great archaeological controversy -
and following interest displayed by historical researcher Brian Edwards
and a local newspaper, the brochures will be re-written, to include the
'forgotten years'. The years when teams of navvies sat aboard the
greatest cranes in the British Empire to hoist stones upright; drag
leaning trilithons into position, replace fallen lintels which once sat
atop the huge sarsens.
As Mr Edwards - the erstwhile enfant terrible of British archaeology
following revelations that nearby Avebury was a total 20s and 30s
rebuild by marmalade millionaire Alexander Keiller - says: 'What we have
been looking at is a 20th Century landscape, which is reminiscent of
what Stonehenge MIGHT have been like thousands of years ago. It has been
created by the heritage industry and is NOT the creation of prehistoric
people. What we saw at the Millennium is less than 50 years old.'
In archaeological terms the re-writing of the guidebooks is dynamite.
English Heritage run Stonehenge on behalf of the nation, and an English
Heritage insider revealed: 'Dark forces were at work in the 70s, when a
decision was taken to drop the information about the restorations Now
that is about to change.
And, in 1901, as the builders went to work, The Times letters column was
full of bucolic missives of complaint. But the first stage of
'restoration' thundered ahead regardless and the style guru of the day,
John Ruskin, released the maxim which was to outlive him....
'Restoration is a lie,' he stormed. Nevertheless the Stonehenge makeover
was to gather momentum and more work was carried out in 1919, 1920,
1958, 1959 and 1964. Christopher Chippindale, curator at the Cambridge
University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Anthropology, and
author of Stonehenge Complete, admits: 'Nearly all the stones have been
moved in some way and are standing in concrete.'
A stone was straightened and set in concrete in 1901, six further stones
in 1919 and 1920, three more in 1959 and four in 1964. There was also
the excavation of the Altar stone and re-erection of the Trilithon in
The guide book 'Stonehenge and Neighbouring Monuments' , and the audio
tour of the Henge omit any comprehensive mention of the rebuilding in
the 20th Century. Only on page 18 is there a slight reference...'A
number of the leaning and fallen stones have been straightened and
re-erected.' But even that official guide book does not contain clues to the large scale restoration, which was not deemed worth a full entry.
Why does John Constable's 1835 painting of the Henge on pages 18 and 19
look so vastly different from the latter-day pristine photograph across
pages 28 and 29? REASON: A lot of restoration work had taken place in
between the two images being recorded. And, during long hot summers it
would be possible - if one could get near to the stones - to see the
turf peeling back to reveal the concrete boots into which the majority
of the stones are now set. A dead give-away, but difficult to spot now
as proximity to the Henge is LIMITED.
One wonders how an event as massive as the resurrection of a worldly
monument such as Stonehenge went without notice. Today, it is rare to
stumble upon any mention of the reconstruction of the historic monument.
People like having clear guidelines that are followed, like those at an
online casino where there
is no room for misunderstandings. If the reconstruction of Stonehenge
was made clear to the public it would only add to its historical value.
sourceThe pictures clearly show the rebuilding in progress. Some were
discovered by Mr Chippendale and were used in a revised edition of his
book. Many of those have since been lost. Others were found by Mr
Edwards who unearthed guide books from the time when Stonehenge was not
ashamed of its past and featured photographs and stories of the
'The news is sensational,' said Mr Edwards, a decorate student at the
University of the West of England. 'Once I realised how much work had
been carried out, I was amazed to discover that practically no-one
outside of the henge know of its reconstruction in the last 100 years. I
have always thought that if people are bothering to make a trip to
Stonehenge, from home or abroad, then the least they should expect is a
Pictures looks solid to me. Maybe a photoshop expert can help out?
If true, the mystery is partially solved?
Use your local google (ask the old folks about this), and please post what they know