Monday, 22 September 2008

Exclusive - Stonehenge is very old

It's official. Archaeologists have spent a lot of time and money radio carbon dating the Stonehenge circle in Wiltshire, and have discovered that it is very old. It's a huge relief to those who weren't sure, but the fact that the area has been dated to 2300BC (actually 2400BC to 2200BC) absolutely confirms, without any shadow of a doubt, that the big blocks are indeed awfully old.

It also comes as a huge relief for the BBC, which has taken the opportunity to spend yet another small fortune on yet another documentary about the big stone lumps, to be shown yet again as part of its Timewatch strand on September 27th. An insider from the BBC has been quoted, fictitiously, as saying that he or she "was mightily relieved, I can tell you! We didn't know whether we would get away with it again!".

On the BBC news website, the archaeologist in charge, Professor David Wainwright, who now thinks Stonehenge was an A&E ward (I kid ye not) due to the number of human remains found, was asked if the fact that an archer's body was discovered three miles away dating to roughly the same period was significant:

"Was the Amesbury Archer, as some have suggested, the person responsible for the building of Stonehenge? I think the answer to that is almost certainly 'no'. (Hooray for sanity!)

"But did he travel there to be healed? Did he limp, or was he carried, all the way from Switzerland to Wiltshire, because he had heard of the miraculous healing properties of Stonehenge? 'Yes, absolutely'. (Come again?!)

"Tim and I are quite convinced that people went to Stonehenge to get well. But Stonehenge probably had more than one purpose, so I have no problem with other people's interpretations."

In the archaeology trade, this is known as 'Stonehedging your bets'...

(I should add that I used to make archaeology TV programmes, and any time anything was found that an archaeologist did not understand, it undoubtedly had "ritual significance". But then the fact that I have a cup of tea every morning at 8.30 is a "ritual"! In my experience of working with them for three years, many archaeologists are perfectly equipped to run creative writing classes...)

Until the next big annual Stonehenge documentary...!

(The BBC story can be read at

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ACS said...

So, Bonekickers was more accurate than we were led to believe, then...!


Chris Paton said...

I never thought I'd see the day when the words "Bonekickers" and "accurate" made it together in the same sentence!!! lol