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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Child’s Visit to Stonehenge Inspired a Quest for Knowledge About Man and God

As a young girl I visited Stonehenge with my family and I remember asking my uncle with great excitement did god build all this just for us to play on? My uncle (who was an academic at Southhampton University) barked back at me ‘don’t be silly girl this is a product of man’s inquiring mind’. I remember just standing there in bewilderment as I couldn’t begin to fathom that man and not god had built this incredible playground as I saw it back then. The visit was in 1974 a few years before the general public’s direct access was understandably restricted to stop erosion and vandalism but luckily for me I was able to run around this huge and imposing cromlech freely touching and hugging and climbing all over it. That precious experience had a profound influence on me as it ignited a curiosity about history and archaeology and also about religion and the question of 'is there a god' that has never left me and it all started with that innocent question about whether god built Stonehenge.

I soon learnt the true history and purpose of Stonehenge. These ruins (which themselves are awe inspiring) are the remains of a circle of upright stones that was constructed anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The stones were aligned almost perfectly with the sunrise on the summer solstice and it is almost certain that Stonehenge was built as a sacred place of worship. It is thought that the Neolithic people of Britain began this massive undertaking by using deer antlers as picks to dig a circular ditch. The diameter of the circle is 320 feet (97.5 meters) and the ditch itself is 20 feet (6m) wide and 7 feet (2.1m) deep. Even though Stonehenge has been the focus of archaeological investigations since the 17th century still more is being discovered about it even today. In 2011 using the latest geophysical imaging techniques two previously undiscovered pits were found which suggest that the site was already being used as an ancient place of ritual before Stonehenge was constructed which is more than 5,000 years ago.

For me Stonehenge symbolises so much about the human journey to find knowledge and self-understanding. A journey of championing ignorance and superstition through discovering the workings of our world and mastering our intellect. We have travelled so far and yet we are so fortunate to have such a rich archeological history to allow us to stay connected to our origins and the marvel of the natural world. I still remember driving away from Stonehenge and not taking my eyes off it until I could no longer see it. I remember that feeling of absolute awe and enchantment and even though as an adult I have a first principle understanding of what is god places like Stonehenge will always inspire that primal awe and wonder in children and adults alike - thank god!

Author Bio: Fran splits her time between work, travel and giving back to the internet through numerous article pages. She enjoys discovering our world and the ceaseless journey of ideas. Fran finds herself increasingly reading biologist Jeremy Griffith's ideas presented at World Transformation which contains rational, biological explanations to the deeper questions.


Emm said...

What a fantastic guest post. I love the nostalgia, history and wonder. I loved visiting Stonehenge, it was just magical.

Lauren Axelrod said...

Thanks Emm. I only wish that someday I could have the same experience. Europe is certainly on my to do list for next year, I'm hoping.

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