The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Stone Circle


Notes and Queries, July 31st, 1875.
On Midsummer morning a party of Americans, who had left London for the purpose, visited Stonehenge for the purpose of witnessing the effects of the sunrise on this particular morning. They were not a little surprised to find that, instead of having the field all to themselves as they had expected, a number of people from all parts of the country side, principally belonging to the poorer classes, were already assembled on the spot. Inquiries failed to elicit any intelligible reason for this extraordinary early turn out of the population except this, that a tradition, which had trickled down through any number of generations, told them that at Stonehenge something unusual was to be seen at sunrise on the morning of the summer solstice.

Stonehenge may roughly be described as composing seven-eighths of a circle, from the open ends of which there runs eastward an avenue having upright stones on either side. At some distance beyond this avenue, but in a direct line with its centre, stands one solitary stone in a sloping position, in front of which, but at a considerable distance, is an eminence or hill. The point of observation chosen by the excursion party was the stone table or altar, near the head of and within the circle, directly looking down the avenue. The morning was unfavourable, but fortunately, just as the sun was beginning to appear over the top of the hill, the mist disappeared, and then for a few moments the on-lookers stood amazed at the phenomenon presented to their view. While it lasted, the sun, like an immense ball, appeared actually to rest on the isolated stone of which mention has been made, or, to quote the quaint though prosaic description of one present, ' it was like a huge pudding placed on a stone.'

[..] Unless it is conceivable that this nice orientation is the result of chance,—which would be hard to believe,—the inference is justifiable that the builders of Stonehenge and other rude monuments of a like description had a special design or object in view in erecting these cromlechs or circles, or whatever the name antiquarians may give them, and that they are really the manifestations of the Baalistic or sun worship professed by the early inhabitants of Great Britain [..]

Slightly unfair on those 'poorer classes' who turned up, because the Americans were surely there for similarly vague reasons, and they'd come all the way from London (hmm.. plus ca change, eh).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th September 2006ce
Edited 10th September 2006ce

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