Stonehenge, By Rosemary Hill
Sunday 14 June 2009
This is a fascinating account of how Stonehenge has been written up over the years, from James I's star architect, Inigo Jones (who swore blind it was a Roman structure, in spite of 12th-century stories that claimed it was a post-Roman building, the burial place of Arthur Pendragon), to the ground-breaking 1833 tome Principles of Geology, which looked at early earth formations and "broke the time barrier" by extending prehistory beyond the 4,000-year limit imposed by theologians.
Rosemary Hill describes how most of the structure seems to have grown up at different times, with stones added and taken away, making attempts to explain its original purpose ever more difficult. She also shows how each age views Stonehenge in its own light. A link to Druids and satanic rituals, for instance, was not surprisingly discovered during the late 17th century, when women were still being burned as witches. Nowadays, Stonehenge seems to be perpetually embroiled in red tape.
This is a thoroughly researched history that's both entertaining and authoritative, and shows that sometimes, no matter how much we try to get to the bottom of a story, part of us never wants the mystery solved.
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