Letter: Who worshipped at Stonehenge?

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The Independent Online
From Ms Frances H. Killingley

Sir: Could Jonathan Glancey ("Mystery of the stones decays and dies", 24 June) please enlighten us as to who exactly were the "ancient peoples of these islands", who, he tells us, worshipped the sun until the 11th century? And whose pantheon did the gods named Santan and Sinclair belong to? The Celts? The Celtic culture of these islands was almost totally swamped by the invading Anglo-Saxons except in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, all of which were pretty thoroughly Christianised by the sixth century.

The Anglo-Saxons? Thanks to the combined efforts of Irish missionaries and St Augustine of Canterbury, they were mostly converted to Christianity by the late seventh century. The Venerable Bede describes new converts gleefully destroying pagan shrines. The law code of King Ina of the West Saxons (690AD), within whose jurisdiction Stonehenge would have lain, exacts penalties for religious nonconformity. After Bede's time, the country was again invaded by pagan Norsemen and Danes, and it is probably to them that Canute, himself a Dane and a pagan by upbringing, directed his edict [forbidding 'heathenism']. He himself embraced Christianity in 1000, possibly to keep his English subjects happy.

Yours sincerely,

Frances H. Killingley

Wivenhoe, Essex

25 June