Unfortunately archaeologists have been able to find little evidence for the prehistoric usage of Stonehenge, but there have been no lack of theories. From the time it was "rediscovered" in the early 12th century, people have interpreted Stonehenge in accordance with their desires and social ideologies.

In the Middle Ages, Stonehenge was seen as the result of a Merlin's magic, a monument commemorating the glory of the ancient Britons.

During the Renaissance, with its focus on Classical art and architecture, Stonehenge was deemed by many to be too majestic to be the work of these same ancient Britons. Not surprisingly, it was instead ascribed to the Romans, or even to the Phoenicians, Saxons, or the Danes.

In the 18th century, the first systematic explorations of Stonehenge were undertaken. One of the primary excavators, William Stukeley, was obsessed with druids. During his Stonehenge fieldwork, he formed a social club with his friends in which each became a figure from the past. Stukeley was Chyndonax the Druid, a character with whom he later seemed to identify unnaturally. He eventually apparently become deluded that he himself was a druid, to the extent that, when his wife miscarried, he buried the embryo with druidic ceremony in a vineyard chapel in their garden.

Many of Stukeley's contemporaries found his idea of a druidic Stonehenge attractive, and Stonehenge ever since has been vaguely associated with druids. Although recent radiocarbon dating has shown that Stonehenge was built approximately two thousand years before the time of the druids, this has not discouraged modern druidic hopefuls.

During the last century, archaeologists have attempted to discover the function of Stonehenge. One prevalent theory, now discredited, ascribed the construction of Stonehenge to the Mycenaens. Others have ascribed the building to ancient astronomers. The Avenue at Stonehenge is undoubtedly oriented to coincide with the midsummer sunrise, but the validity of other astronomical alignments is still hotly debated.

Recent popular theories are less bound to archaeological evidence, and frequently involve UFOs, crystal halos, ley lines, and - inevitably - druids.


Over its 5000 year-old history, Stonehenge has been used, remodeled, and interpreted by many people according to their own needs and desires. Write a short essay (250-300 words) explaining who should determine how it is interpreted today. You must be able to justify your opinions; opinions alone stated as facts are not sufficient. Essays must be typed.