For decades the official Stonehenge guidebooks have been full of fascinating facts and figures and theories surrounding the world’s greatest prehistoric monument. What the glossy brochures do not mention, however, is the systematic rebuilding of the 4,000 year old stone circle throughout the 20th Century.
This is one of the dark secrets of history archaeologists don’t talk about: The day they had the builders in at Stonehenge to recreate the most famous ancient monument in Britain as they thought it ought to look.
This picture shows workers on the site in 1901 in a restoration which caused outrage at the time but which is rarely referred to in official guidebooks. For it means that Stonehenge, jewel in the crown of Britain’s heritage industry, is not all it seems. Much of what the ancient site’s millions of visitors see in fact dates back less than 50 years.
From 1901 to 1964, the majority of the stone circle was restored in a series of makeovers which have left it, in the words of one archaeologist, as ‘a product of the 20th century heritage industry’. But the information is markedly absent from the guidebooks and info-phones used by tourists at the site. Coming in the wake of the news that the nearby Avebury stone circle was almost totally rebuilt in the 1920s, the revelation about Stonehenge has caused embarrassment among archaelogists. English Heritage, the guardian of the monument, is to rewrite the official guide, which dismisses the Henge’s recent history in a few words. Dave Batchelor, English Heritage’s senior archaeologist said he would personally rewrite the official guide. ‘The detail was dropped in the Sixties’, he admitted. ‘But times have changed and we now believe this is an important piece of the Stonehenge story and must be told’. (1)
We have forgotten our past.
So we choose to create it.
Our world is what we make it to be.
And this is more true than you would ever imagine…