The south west of England is quite a magical corner. Near Glastonbury you can find a hill called Glastonbury Tor, once the mysterious isle of Avalon, topped by St Michael's Tower. The myths associated with Glastonbury Tor are extraordinary. It has been called a magic mountain, a faeries' glass hill, a Grail castle, an Arthurian hill-fort and much more. There is also the saying that if a rainbow is seen over the Tor, someone has seen the Holy Grail.
And then there is Stonehenge, a massive circle of standing stones weighing up to 50 tons each, erected about 4,500 years ago and earthworks in the middle of a green field what is now in the south west of England. These stones have seen many races rise and countless kingdoms fall since an ancient civilisation raised this broken ring of huge, massive and roughly rectangular stones in a field in what is now Wiltshire.
Wild theories about this monument have persisted since the Middle Ages, with 12th-century myths crediting the wizard Merlin with constructing the site. The Welsh cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote in the Middle Ages about it, probable mixing facts and legends of ancient times in his report.
More recently, UFO believers have spun theories about ancient aliens and spacecraft landing pads.
This prehistoric site has been of great interest also for archaeologists. And it was quite recently that they made stunning discoveries. This was made possible by using ground-penetrating radar, laser scanners and magnetometers developed by engineers at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna.
And the new finding won by these new technologies radically changes our view of Stonehenge," said Vince Gaffney, head of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project at Birmingham University. "In the past we had this idea that Stonehenge was standing in splendid isolation, but it wasn't … it's absolutely huge." In fact is was surrounded by a huge infrastructure including chapels.
“The project has revealed that the area around Stonehenge is teeming with previously unseen
archaeology and that the application of new technology can transform how archaeologists and the wider public understand one of the best-studied landscapes on Earth," he added.
It turns out that Stonehenge was a kind of prehistoric Mecca, having an infrastructure around the site catering for masses of pilgrims coming not only from the British Isles but from far beyond it.
While Stonehenge is still an awe-inspiring sight for us today, it was much more so at the height of its glory at a time of humble and simple wooden dwellings. It would have evoked gasps of wonder and admiration from visitors from all over the known world who would have been drawn to it as a Temple and a unique Centre of Excellence. It was also surely a place of healing.
For sure the Stone Age Architects who built Stonehenge must have been very knowledgeable, considering the fact that at that time in Britain neither the wheel was invented nor even Bronze tools were used as the Bronze age begun only 2,000 BC, hundreds of years later.