Stonehenge Decoded

Posted on: 24 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

For centuries, Stonehenge has been a puzzle.

There have been many disputed theories about this giant stone circle: the Romans imagined a temple to the sun god Apollo. Medieval legend said it was the work of the wizard Merlin.

More recently, some have claimed it is a giant stone computer built to predict the movement of the stars. But now, at last, we might be close to a real understanding of this iconic Stone Age monument.

National Geographic ChannelIn a vast new archaeological investigation, Professor Mike Parker Pearson and his team are unearthing evidence that reveals Stonehenge may not have stood in isolation, but was part of one of the largest prehistoric religious complexes in the world.

Within this complex they have discovered remains of the largest prehistoric settlement in northern Europe. At its centre stood an extraordinary near replica of Stonehenge itself, built not in stone but wood.

Parker Pearson now believes Stonehenge was not a temple to the Sun or prehistoric Gods, but a great monument dedicated to the ancestors of these Stone Age people, built to house the spirits of the dead.

Stonehedge DecodedMeanwhile, the wooden circle was dedicated to the world of the living. On the longest and shortest days of the year, when the monuments align dramatically with the rising and setting sun, thousands gathered here from across Britain for two great festivals marking the cycle of their year and their lives. At midsummer they thanked the ancestors for bringing fertility to the world, and in mid-winter they laid their dead to rest.

Combining ground-breaking new discoveries, cutting edge CGI, and high quality dramatic recreations, Stonehenge Decoded transports us back 4,500 years to the world of Stonehenge, to provide startling new insights into one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries, and perhaps reveal once and for all, just why the monument was built, and what it was used for.

Premieres Sunday 1st June at 8pm on National Geographic Channel.

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