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Stonehenge – white as objects in the night sky

19 September 2014

Channel 4's TV show on 'The Hidden Landscape Project' at Stonehenge (part two) came up with some fascinating insights today – plus a lot of speculative thinking. That the outward facing sides of the stones were dressed by stonemasons is pretty common knowledge – but the fresh news is that when pounded and worked the surface whitens. These are blocks of sandstone (sarsen) that nowadays look dull and grey. In their heyday they were dressed in order not just to smooth their outlines, but to produce a white colour. This whiteness went glove in hand with the white chalk of the henge bank and ditch and the Cursus monument, and the white chalk blocks laid on top of barrows to provide a highllight from a distance.

What was white – objects in the night sky. The idea they worshipped the Sun because the monument is aligned to the Sun is perhaps not what archaeologists should be looking at – but at what objects in the sky may have intrigued the builders (or even what may they have been fearful of in order to expend so much energy when they could have been tending their fields and animals). The idea of an ancient observatory has gone out of archaeological fashion. Is it time to resurrect the idea (but we don't know what they were looking at).

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