Insight & Analysis

Stonehenge mystery finally explained

Published: Mar 2022

The mystery of UK’s Stonehenge may finally have been explained by researchers who say it is a huge solar calendar.

Stonehenge at sunset

Research has shown that the stones were placed in approximately 2500 B.C. and have remained in the same formation, indicating that they worked as a single unit, much like a calendar.

Although the origins of the Wiltshire site are still very much a mystery, in a paper published in the journal Antiquity, Professor Timothy Darvill, from Bournemouth University in the UK, surmised that the stones are displayed to represent a solar year of 365.25 days and were once used to help people keep track of time. His research also includes new findings about the site’s history, as well as analysis of other ancient calendar systems.

The significance of the layout is highlighted during the Winter and Summer solstices, when the sun is framed by the same stones each time. The solstitial alignment helps to calibrate the calendar and any errors would be easily detectable as the sun would be in the wrong place during the biannual event.

Professor Darvill said: “The proposed calendar works in a very straightforward way. Each of the 30 stones in the sarsen circle represents a day within a month, itself divided into three weeks each of ten days.”

The solar calendar was developed in eastern Mediterranean countries after 3000 B.C. and adopted in Egypt as the Civil Calendar in approximately 2700 B.C. It was widely used around 2600 B.C., at the beginning of the Old Kingdom and this information raises the possibility that the calendar that Stonehenge tracks may actually be influenced by other cultures.

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