A Welsh scientist has called previous theories surrounding Stonehenge ‘mythology,’ and has made a radical new claim that the stones were moved 500,000 years ago by a glacier.
Brian John believes he has solved the mystery of how massive bluestones moved 140 miles west to the south of England from a quarry in Wales where they are believed to have originated.
A popular theory is that humans carried or dragged the stones 5,000 years ago, but it has never been discovered how Stone Age people achieved such a feat.
According to John, the evidence supports a scenario in which the bluestones were carried to the site by a glacier, 500,000 years ago.
His theory would also answer the question of why the ancient builders of Stonehenge believed the stones to have such a spiritual significance that they were worth the effort to transport.
According to John’s new book The Stonehenge Bluestones, the stones did not have a deep meaning to ancient Britons. Instead, they were just there.
‘Over the past 50 years there has been a drift, in Stonehenge studies, from science toward mythology. This has been driven partly by constant media demands for new and spectacular stories about the monument,’ John told British media this week.
In the book, John argues that a glacier carved its way across Wales thousands of years ago.
He believes the ice picked up bluestones along the way and eventually dropped them on the Salisbury Plain after the ice melted.
In 2015, John helped write a report arguing that what was believed to be evidence of neolithic quarrying of bluestones in Wales was actually an ‘entirely natural’ process.
‘This has been driven partly by constant media demands for new and spectacular stories about the monument, and partly by the archaeological emphasis on impact,’ he said.
‘So we see an obsession with narrative at the expense of evidence, and a host of newly manufactured myths which are even more wacky than the old ones. It’s time for a cool reassessment.’
Stonehenge is made up of two types of stone: the bluestones that make up the smaller ring, as well as the sarsen trilithons are that make up the outer ring of the circle.
Sarsen is a layer of sandstone that formed millions of years ago above the chalk layer on Salisbury Plain.
During the various ice ages, permafrost repeatedly froze and thawed this chalk layer, shattering the sarsen.
Over millennia, these stones sank below the surface, leaving a few fragmented rocks jutting out.
These stones, of varying sizes, can be found across Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, as well as in Kent and in smaller quantities in Berkshire, Essex, Oxfordshire, Dorset and Hampshire.
Stonehenge is one of the most prominent prehistoric monuments in Britain.
The monument that can be seen today is the final stage of a project that spanned 1,500 years.
Stonehenge was donated to the nation’s heritage collection in 1918 by owners Cecil and Mary Chubb.
Mr Chubb had bought the then-neglected monument on impulse at an auction three years earlier having been sent there by his wife to bid for a set of dining room chairs.