Stonehenge 'was a cremation cemetry, not healing centre'
Stonehenge was used as a cremation cemetry throughout its history, according to new evidence that divides archaeologists over whether England's most famous ancient monument was about celebrating life or death.
Recently a BBC documentary suggested that the standing stones were not erected until 2,300BC, when the site became a centre of healing.
Now a team behind the latest dig suggest the standing stones were erected much earlier than previously thought, in 3,000 BC, and used for cremation burial throughout their history and not for healing.
The report said: "We propose that very early in Stonehenge's history, 56 Welsh bluestones stood in a ring 285 feet 6 inches across. This has sweeping implications for our understanding of Stonehenge."
The second significant finding was from radiocarbon dating of human remains found on the site from between 2,300 and 3,000 BC. Researchers concluded that this meant cremation burial was going on long after the standing stones had been erected.
The report said: "Contrary to claims made in the recent BBC Timewatch film, which promoted a theory of Stonehenge as a healing centre built after the practice of cremation burial had ceased, standing stones and burial may have been prominent aspects of Stonehenge's meaning and purpose for a millenium."
"This means there were earlier connections with Wales, where the standing stones came from, than previously thought and that Stonehenge was always about death and ancestors and burial and not healing," he said.
Geoffrey Wainwright, one of the archaelogists behind the BBC film, maintained that healing was one of the uses of the site.
"We do not claim Stonehenge was a single use monument," he said. "We think it was a multifunctional monument and part of its purpose was for healing."
I said as much in my previous post:
Such a prominent edifice need not have a single function. Healing cults tend to form around important religious sites irrespective of their original purpose.