archaeologists have been able to find little evidence for the prehistoric
usage of Stonehenge, but there have been no lack of theories. From the
time it was "rediscovered" in the early 12th century, people have interpreted
Stonehenge in accordance with their desires and social ideologies.
the Middle Ages, Stonehenge was seen as the result of a Merlin's magic,
a monument commemorating the glory of the ancient Britons.
the Renaissance, with its focus on Classical art and architecture, Stonehenge
was deemed by many to be too majestic to be the work of these same ancient
Britons. Not surprisingly, it was instead ascribed to the Romans, or
even to the Phoenicians, Saxons, or the Danes.
the 18th century, the first systematic explorations of Stonehenge were
undertaken. One of the primary excavators, William Stukeley, was obsessed
with druids. During his Stonehenge fieldwork, he formed a social club
with his friends in which each became a figure from the past. Stukeley
was Chyndonax the Druid, a character with whom he later seemed to identify
unnaturally. He eventually apparently become deluded that he himself
was a druid, to the extent that, when his wife miscarried, he buried
the embryo with druidic ceremony in a vineyard chapel in their garden.
Many of Stukeley's contemporaries found his idea of a druidic Stonehenge
attractive, and Stonehenge ever since has been vaguely associated with
druids. Although recent radiocarbon dating has shown that Stonehenge
was built approximately two thousand years before the time of the druids,
this has not discouraged modern druidic hopefuls.
the last century, archaeologists have attempted to discover the function
of Stonehenge. One prevalent theory, now discredited, ascribed the construction
of Stonehenge to the Mycenaens. Others have ascribed the building to
ancient astronomers. The Avenue at Stonehenge is undoubtedly oriented
to coincide with the midsummer sunrise, but the validity of other astronomical
alignments is still hotly debated.
popular theories are less bound to archaeological evidence, and frequently
involve UFOs, crystal halos, ley lines, and - inevitably - druids.
its 5000 year-old history, Stonehenge has been used, remodeled, and
interpreted by many people according to their own needs and desires.
Write a short essay (250-300 words) explaining who should determine
how it is interpreted today. You must be able to justify your opinions;
opinions alone stated as facts are not sufficient. Essays must be typed.