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Was Stonehenge A Centre of Miracle Cures?

By Lenny Stoute     Apr 3, 2008 in Science
Archeology will be all hot this summer. Indiana Jones back on the big screen will be balanced by the first dig at Stonehenge in 50 years. Team leaders, Geoff Wainwright and Professor Tim Darvill hope to find evidence Stonehenge was a Lourdes-alike.
The worlds of archeology and antiquities in the UK are all aglow at the thought of next Monday's big dig. That would be the one at Stonehenge and its supposed to reveal all manner of truth and put nails in the coffins of wrongheaded theories.
You'd think the sheer age of Stonehenge would have earned it "hands off" status but nope, this summer the Brits will be again be meddling with their ancient stones. It turns out Britons simply can't live with themselves until they get to the bottom once and for all, of when the darned thing was put up and what for?
Stonehenge is an iconic British site which has tantalized fact seekers of all stripes for hundreds of years, even more so in the last fifty, since the government slapped a ban on anyone fiddling around with the stones.
That changes on Monday when the first excavation to take place at Stonehenge since the ban starts up.
For Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage and one of the major movers behind the dig, this is an exciting moment,
"Very occasionally, we have the opportunity to find out something new archaeologically - we are at that moment now.
"We believe that this dig has a chance of genuinely unlocking part of the mystery of Stonehenge", Thurley told the BBC.. "To do an excavation at Stonehenge is very special indeed."
Taking the shovels to the dirt, archeology Professors Geoff Wainwright and Tim Darvill. Wainwright told the BBC he's ready to regard the Stonehenge dig as the summit of his professional career.
As to why after all this time the dig is on hasn't as yet been explained but it might have to do with a fad for rethinking Stonehenge. The dominant theory concerning Stonehenge is that it was a temple to the Sun, built by a settler, agriculturally based people, with a vested interest in venerating heat and light.
A Professor Mike Parker Pearson has been offering a dramatically different view - his work at the nearby Neolithic settlement of Durrington Walls has led him to believe that Stonehenge was a place not of life but of death - an opportunity for people to commune with the spirits of their ancestors.
Not surprisingly, Darvill's and Wainwright have their own carefully developed theory about Stonehenge and will be looking to the dig to vindicate them. Their theory is derived from six years of research on Carn Menyn - a lonely and atmospheric spot in Pembrokeshire's Preseli hills. It's from here that the Welsh bluestones of Stonehenge began their 200-mile journey, 4,500 years ago to become the original stone circle, the great sarsen stones being a later reno.
Dating the remains of the original bluestone structure is one of the dig's major objectives. Establishing a date will shed light on a mysterious period of British pre-history, as well as link Stonehenge with what else was going on in Prehistoric Britain at the time.
That in turn could help clear up the ongoing debate on just how the Neolithics got the blue stones to Stonehenge in the first place. The journey to Stonehenge was such an stunning feat, archaeologists still can't agree on how it was done.
Which is where Darvill and Wainwright are hoping historical fact and their theory on the ancient circle's meaning will dovetail. They believe it wasn't just chance or viability as building material which brought the blue stones from Wales but the power inherent in the stones themselves. The healing power of the bluestones has been part of Britain's' oral tradition since the Neoliths started talking and they remain very much part of the culture of contemporary Northern wales.
The pair also point to startling similarities between the local Bedd Arthur bluestone circle, and the circle at Stonehenge.
This, combined with growing evidence of illness and injury from human remains unearthed around Stonehenge, has led the them to a new theory. They now believe the bluestones were healing stones, and were laboriously taken to Stonehenge because people believed they had a magical curative powers.
Over time, Stonehenge went from your average local henge to a power centre, a "Neolithic Lourdes" - drawing in the sick and injured from around Britain and beyond.
It remains to be seen if this theory, or if any of the current front runners, are proved out after all the evidence is in. What is certain is that the pair will be stepping into an unknown that hasn't been tested in a long time, armed with the kind of technology which gives them a good chance of getting to the hard rock facts on Stonehenge.
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