Left: Woodhenge (artist’s impression)
Centre: its more durable successor Stonehenge, May 2012 with rape crop (yellow) in background
Right: Silbury Hill, that enigmatic Neolithic man-made mound some 17 miles (27 km) distant from Stonehenge that has so far defied explanation – as indeed has Stonehenge.
Do not despair, dear reader: I believe this latest blog of mine provides for the first time an explanation that links Stonehenge, its predecessor Woodhenge, the adjacent Neolithic settlement of Durrington Walls and even the more distant Silbury Hill into a single consistent all-embracing theory.
Warning: some of it will not make pleasant reading to those of finer sensibilities. But Neolithic folk – in transition from a hunter-gatherer to an initially precarious agrarian existence – could not afford to have finer sensibilities, not if they wanted to keep themselves and their families fed, especially through the winter months.
I propose that the arrival of the winter solstice – detected by the alignment of Woodhenge and, later, Stonehenge – was the signal for the original inhabitants of Woodhenge/Stonehenge some 4000 -5000 years ago to switch to a different dietary mode.
It’s the details of that diet that may turn some stomachs, but which I, as a (hopefully) detached scientist , now retired, intend to explore in some details on this specialist blog. It’s by way of a spin-off from three earlier postings on my science buzz site.
Accompanying the unusual winter diet were legitimising, indeed sanctifying rituals that honoured the deceased, while ensuring that at least part of their mortal remains did not go to waste. This blog will delve into the details of what might be described euphemistically as Neolithic recycling technology, and the way in which it was integrated in to religious life, elevating a dietary practice to a spiritual plane, if only as a practical and phlegmatic means of overcoming inevitable reservations re its propriety.
Colin Berry (aka sciencebod)