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Houses of the holy: Architecture and meaning in the structures of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK.

Darvill, T., 2016. Houses of the holy: Architecture and meaning in the structures of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK. Time and Mind, 9 (2), 89 - 121.

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DOI: 10.1080/1751696X.2016.1171496


Stonehenge in central southern England is internationally known. Recent re-evaluations of its date and construction sequence provides an opportunity to review the meaning and purpose of key structural components. Here it is argued that the central stone structures did not have a single purpose but rather embody a series of symbolic representations. During the early third millennium this included a square-in-circle motif representing a sacred house or ‘big house’ edged by the five Sarsen Trilithons. During the late third millennium BC, as house styles changed, some of the stones were re-arranged to form a central oval setting that perpetuated the idea of the a sacred dwelling. The Sarsen Circle may have embodied a time-reckoning system based on the lunar month. From about 2500 BC more than 80 bluestones were brought to the site from sources in the Preseli Hills of west Wales about 220km distant. Initially arranged as a Double Circle they are variously rearranged at least four times over the following centuries. The diverse lithology of the bluestones reflects the landscape from which the stones derived so that the monument embodied a microcosm of the distant land. Associations with water and healing suggest one reason why Stonehenge became such a powerful place in prehistoric times.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Stonehenge ; Bluestone ; Sarsen ; Neolithic ; Britain ; Henge ; Big house ; Prehistoric architecture ; Calendar
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:23558
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:16 May 2016 15:53
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:56

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