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Stonehenge [1909] (public domain image)

Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments Astronomically Considered

by Norman Lockyer


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After centuries of speculation the origin, purpose, and construction of Stonehenge is still a mystery. Out of the hundreds of books on the subject, a few stand out. Lockyer's careful survey of the monument and other Northern European megaliths is one of these. Lockyer, who had spotless academic credentials, raised some of the themes which would dominate mainstream theories of Stonehenge during the 20th century, particularly his focus on archaeo-astronomy. Lockyer's primary hypothesis, that Stonehenge and other megalithic constructions were ancient observatories, is still considered plausible. He also noted the vast alignments of sites which covered the landscape, both in Britain and in northern France, anticipating Afred Watkins' discovery of ley lines by over a decade.

On the other hand, his conclusion that Stonehenge was constructed by immigrants from the Near East was, even then, controversial. The use of large stones to construct monuments was global in nature over a long period of history. Lockyer rolls out the well-known folklore evidence for Celtic tree, well, and stone worship, which had parallels in ancient Near Eastern paganism. However, the people who constructed Stonehenge were pre-Celtic, and their religious beliefs are still a matter for speculation. This isn't to say that his hypothesis is implausible, just that there is no concrete evidence to support it.

Production notes: this text was scanned from a print-on-demand edition of this book, due to the unavailability of an original. For this reason, due to speckling, the OCR stage introduced a great deal of spurious punctuation which had to be edited out, and some problems of this nature may still remain, even though due care was taken in proofing. In addition, the scanned illustrations are not of the highest quality. Hopefully this will be remedied at some point--J.B. Hare.

Title Page
List of Illustrations
Chapter I. Introductory
Chapter II. The Astronomical Divisions of the Year
Chapter III. The Agricultural Divisions of the Year
Chapter IV. The Various New-Year Days
Chapter V. Conditions and Traditions at Stonehenge
Chapter VI. General Architecture of Stonehenge
Chapter VII. Astronomical Observations at Stonehenge in 1901
Chapter VIII. Archeological Observations at Stonehenge, 1901
Chapter IX. Was There an Earlier Circle?
Chapter X. The May and June Worships in Brittany
Chapter XI. Astronomical Hints For Archæologists
Chapter XII. Astronomical Hints for Archæologists—Continued
Chapter XIII. Stenness
Chapter XIV. The Hurlers
Chapter XV. The Dartmoor Avenues
Chapter XVI. The Dartmoor Avenues (continued)
Chapter XVII. Stanton Drew
Chapter XVIII. Folklore and Tradition
Chapter XIX. Sacred Fires
Chapter XX. Sacred Trees
Chapter XXI. Holy Wells And Streams
Chapter XXII. Where Did the British Worship Originate?
Chapter XXIII. The Similarity of the Semitic and British Worships
Chapter XXIV. The May-Year in South-West Cornwall
Chapter XXV. The Merry Maidens Circle
Chapter XXVI. The Tregaseal Circles
Chapter XXVII. Some Other Cornish Monuments
Chapter XXVIII. The Clock-Stars in Egypt and Britain
Chapter XXIX. A Short History of Sun Temples
Chapter XXX. The Life of the Astronomer-Priests


I. Details of the Theodolite Observations at Stonehenge
II: Hints on Making, and Method of Reducing, the Field Observations