Stonehenge is one of the most famous and mysterious structures in the world. Now, host Josh Bernstein investigates the origins of Stonehenge and the prehistoric world that surrounded it. From the depths of a 5,000-year-old copper mine to an ancient quarry from which the stones were carved, Josh deploys the latest archaeological evidence to reveal who built this great monument. Then, using prehistoric technology as his guide, he reveals how it was built, and why!
The Stones Themselves "What can I say...? This is one of the few places on the planet where I can't help butfeel that something VERY powerful and significant was created here. I also can't get 'Spinal Tap' out of my head..."
Crop Circles, Druids, and Aliens (oh my!): "Ok, so I know what some of you are thinking when you see me pushing down that crop to make a crop circle--'Josh, that crop is way too short to push down! You idiot!' Yeah, I knew that. Unfortunately, I went to England fairly early in the growing season, so I couldn't find ANY crops high enough to make my point. Such a shame, as I was all excited to make a giant 'H' for The History Channel with that board and rope... Oh well. Oh, and I'm sure that some may argue that certain crop circles are far too complex to have been done by any one human. Well, this is a show about Stonehenge, not Crop Circles, so we had to limit the debate to just those circles which were proven to be human-made. Now, that said, it's back to the stones!"
Julian Richards: "Julian is a seasoned veteran of television, as the 'presenter' (aka Host) of several British shows. He's also a great archaeologist with an infectious passion for Stonehenge. What more could want in a partner-in-crime as we explore the stones, burrows and ditches of the Salisbury Plain. So, without further ado, let's take a look!"
The Ultralight Flight: "You know, during the first season, we were always talking about how 'dangerous' the microlight and ultralight flights were. And now (yawn) we just get in and go (zzzz). Kind of funny, huh? It's nice to see the producers are getting used to me jumping into small planes to get a better view of things. In this case, the pilot said I'd be freezing cold
without a heavy jacket, so I borrowed his via Indy-esque bomber jacket for the flight. And, sure enough, we saw some beautiful things."
The Salisbury Plain: "The Salisbury Plain is 300 square miles and includes the Stonehenge site. What's spectacular about seeing it all from above is that one immediately sees how Stonehenge fits into the context of the plains. During the late Neolithic period, 5000 years ago, the trees here were being cleared and the landscape was being shaped by people with a vision. The barrows, the cursus, Woodhenge, Stonehenge ... All of these creations were the result of hard work and determination. From up here, it's a bit like looking at the stars and trying to determine a constellation. Is there a method to the madness? A grand plan that determines where each item gets placed?"
"(Ps. If, like me, you're curious about names and places, the Salisbury steak is named after Dr. J. H. Salisbury, 1823-;1905. He was an English physician who strongly advocated eating lots of meat. Whether or not he was from Salisbury, England, I couldn't find out.)"
John & Val Lord: "John and Val are my kind of people—primitive technologists who love working with stone, bone, hide and plants. John is the master of stone, Val the master of plants. Together, they're my guides through the world of Neolithic Britain. First up, flintknapping."
"I've done some flintknapping, but I've never chopped down a tree using a stone axe. Regular axe, sure. Chain saw, many times. But a stone axe is a whole different experience... With John's axe and a good twenty minutes of chopping, I cut down my first tree, proving that the tools of the Neolithic were effective."
The Amesbury Archer: "Discovered only a few years ago (2002), the Amesbury Archer changed the face of Stonehenge archaeology. His teeth tell us he came from Europe--possibly from an area not far from Oetzi the Iceman. And, like Oetzi, his possession of metal fascinated archaeologists. In this case, though, it's not a copper axe but a small copper knife and some golden hair ornaments. Some consider him the King of Stonehenge. Some speculate he may have even designed Stonehenge, but that's more than the bones can tell us. What we do know, however, is that he was in the area of Stonehenge during its construction and would most likely have been involved."
The Great Orme Copper Mine: "This is the largest copper mine in the world. It's been mined for thousands of years. And it was discovered just 20 years ago. Isn't that nuts? Who knows what other archaeological sites are lying just beneath the surface of our planet, waiting to be found... But this mine is a GREAT place to explore and Nick Jowett's the perfect guide. He says that less than 5% of the mine has been explored. LESS THAN 5%!!! And they've already found 30,000 bones and 5 miles of tunnels. Unreal."
Copper: "According to Julian, archaeologists don't think that copper was critical during the construction of Stonehenge. The builders of Stonehenge knew about copper, they may very well have coveted items made of it, but it seems that the actual construction wasn't dependent on it. The only reference to it is the faint impression of a dagger carved into the side of one of the giant stones."
Moving Stones: "Stonehenge has many mysteries. 'How were these stones moved?' is one of them. We know they DID move the stones (duh) but there is no shortage of theories to explain how they got there. Kind of like the pyramids.... Julian says that archaeologists have found tracks perfectly preserved in some of the UK's peat bogs. These tracks could have been built for the express purpose of moving stones across the countryside. We don't know... But we put the theory to the test and, indeed, with a wooden sled on wooden track, the stones are surprising easy to move. And I'm told that Julian did this with one of the massive Sarsen stones, too."
Solstice at Stonehenge: "I have actually returned to England specifically for this event. We were done shooting but I just HAD to be there to see this potential sundial do its thing. Me and my closest 5000 friends are now here in the early morning darkness, eagerly awaiting the sunrise. Will it come up? Will it be cloudy? Will I be able to see it? Am I standing in the right place? These are just some of the thoughts going through our minds. And then some PPGers fly over our heads and I wonder 'Why aren't I up there, PPGing my way over Stonehenge on this glorious day?!' But then I realize that the best location is down here, where the stones align and the sun's movements are perfectly tracked."
"Okay, so not so perfectly tracked--after all, it's been 4000 or so years since this thing was calibrated. But the sun does indeed come up within the giant uprights and I'm amazed. Was it an observatory? Maybe. A ritual area of sacrifice? Possibly. A sun calendar? It would appear so. There were probably many different components to Stonehenge, including its role as a religious or spiritual center, a place where people would gather to witness the longest day of the year. And 5000 years later, it still is a place of gathering--just as magnificent as ever."