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On Salisbury plain in southern England stands an awesome testament of time and mystery-an arrangement of stones that has been the subject of endless poems, studies, legends, and speculations that date as far back as King Arthur and his court. Stonehenge presents a unique cryptic puzzle about the lives of a prehistoric people. Interest in the beauty and mystery of Stonehenge did not surface until the Dark Ages when people began to wonder about the purpose behind the stone structure and about the people that lived in the Stone Age on the Salisbury plains. The decoding of the mystery of Stonehenge unlocks centuries of theories about the somber stones of the Druids. The rugged stones are blank with no words of dedication, no constructional notation, and no readable clues. As the mystery behind the stone structure begins to unfold, a door of history stands ajar. By the 21st century the mystery behind the positioning of the stones (a master plan of architecture) was revealed.
Stonehenge was built between the years 1900 and 1600 B.C.E., a thousand years after the pyramids of Egypt and a few hundred years before the fall of Troy. Its creation corresponded with the flourishing of the Minoan civilization of Crete. In Mesopotamia, Abraham was living at Harran and the Israelites had not yet come into bondage in Egypt.
Within the circular walls of Stonehenge there are pairings of trilithons making a horseshoe shape. These are three stones that are rectangular in shape. Two "heel" stones are anchored into the ground and the third stone rests on top, creating a houselike image. The structure of Stonehenge, seems at first glance nothing more then large stones randomly laid out on Salisbury Plain; however, after much investigation, these stones turn out to provide more information that reveals Stonehenge to be a monumental temple. Stonehenge is decorated with intricate celestial alignments in complete simplicity and symmetry of design so that the rays of the sun shine through specific areas at certain times of the day and year, showing that the engineers who constructed Stonehenge possessed intelligence of a high order.
There have been numerous theories devised by anthropologists and archaeologists about what took place within the stone structures, such as that the Stonehenge sun-moon alignments were created and elaborated to make a calendar to tell time for planting crops and that the structure allowed priests to maintain priestly power, as they were able to call out to the multitude to see the spectacular rising and setting of the moon and sun and their union in an eclipse.
One of the most interesting recordings of the people of Stonehenge comes from the transcripts of the Greek historian Diodorus, who wrote in 1 B.C.E. that Stonehenge was a "Temple in the land of the Celts" and that the God Apollo visited the Celtic island every 19 years and danced the night through the vernal equinox. The writings of Diodorus echo the religion of the Greeks, for the veneration of the sun and moon was also an important element within Greek religion. The writings of Diodorus are richly suggestive and provide clues into the lives of the people of Wessex. They held the sun and moon in highest regard, objects of holiness enough to build an elaborate monument to honor these two celestial bodies.
It seems that every historical era has created its own interpretation of the meaning behind Stonehenge. During the Middle Ages, the presence of the grim stones invited the explanation that the magician Merlin produced them through the use of his wand. This theory had died out by the 17th century when Inigo Jones, an architect, concluded that Stonehenge was much too elegant for the early Britons, who were a savage and barbarous people. Jones proposed that the stones were constructed by the Druids, a more highly intelligent group. Another scholar, Jon Aubrey, agreed with Jones that the Druids used the structure as a temple, a sacrificial high place, ceremonial grounds, or a place where weekly libations were made to their gods. Classic literature abounds in reference to the Druids, elevating them to a mysterious and fascinating people. This being said, no modern scholar gives credence to the theory of the Druids and their Celtic cult as being responsible for the masterpiece of Stonehenge. In 1961, new theories that incorporated advanced technology in the areas of computers and science shed new light on the mystery of Stonehenge. It was within this time that a new group of Stonehenge decoders emerged called the proto-Newtons of Stonehenge. They were confronted by three wonders in the firmament: sun, moon, and x being the unseen force. Was x the God of the Bible? Did the three coordinates symbolize the Trinity of the Christian tradition, or did the engineers behind Stonehenge believe in another unnamed force that governed their world? The elements of sun and moon were undeniable to the proto-Newtons as being the two major areas of Stonehenge worship. Professor Fred Hoyle, an astronomer, tested out this theory and determined that Stonehenge was a sanctuary to pay reverence to the celestial bodies, which made up the religion of the people of Wessex.
Astronomer Gerald S. Hawkins made the most advances in proving the theory of celestial alignments through his endless testing and retesting of the exterior and interior of the stones. Based on Hawkins's work, Stonehenge is understood to be an early computer that tested and measured the movement and happenings in the skies-specifically the positioning of the sun and moon (considered prehistoric deities) over Stonehenge. Through the testing and retesting of the correlation of the rise of the sun and moon, and their positioning with the celestial bodies, Dr. Hawkins's theory was proven accurate. The trilithon pairings that make up the horseshoe within the circle point to the sun and the moon. By this positioning, the Stone Age viewer saw the solstice rising sun-the disk-and the rising moon. Standing within the horseshoe, the individual viewer is forced to look through the paired archways toward the sun and the moon.
The theory of Stonehenge will continue to fascinate scholars and scientists alike for generations to come. One fact that has proven undeniable by all generations that have come to know Stonehenge is that it remains a supreme emblem of a proximate craft and a mystery that welcomes all those who wish to attempt to unlock her secrets.