Stonehenge, the world’s most famous stone circle, is one of the great mysteries of our prehistoric past. After centuries of speculation, archaeologists have made many new discoveries over the last few decades, using ground-breaking scientific techniques that have revolutionized our knowledge about when and how it was built, who the people were that built it, and why.
There are plenty of theories about Stonehenge: Was it an astronomical observatory? A calendar? A temple for ancient druids? A place of healing? And that’s not to mention space aliens! The wealth of new evidence–not just about Stonehenge, but about its wider world of the Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age–has led to new interpretations about its role as a monument to ancient ancestors, uniting people from different territories across prehistoric Britain.
In this course, we will explore the 1500-year prehistory of Stonehenge through its five stages of construction, from 3000 BC to 1500 BC. Professor Parker Pearson’s twenty years of research on Stonehenge has helped to transform our understanding of this enigmatic stone circle, including the discovery of a new henge, a settlement where Stonehenge’s builders may have lived, and the quarries for Stonehenge’s bluestones in the Preseli hills of west Wales.
Stonehenge: A New Understanding, by Michael Parker Pearson
Stonehenge: Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery, by Michael Parker Pearson with Josh Pollard, Colin Richards, Julian Thomas and Kate Welham
Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape, by Francis Pryor
Stonehenge: The Story So Far, by Julian RIchards
- What has been learned from new scientific techniques, such as ancient DNA analysis, isotope analysis and geophysical survey?
- Did you know that Stonehenge is the largest known burial ground of the 3rd millennium BC in Britain? Who was buried there? And how has this helped our understanding of the monument?
- How did a man from Madagascar point Stonehenge researchers towards a new theory, and how has it stood the test of uncovering new evidence?
- What events may have triggered each of Stonehenge’s five construction stages? What do we know of the world of the pastoralist farmers of this period, and the circumstances that brought them together for monument-building?