I love prehistory; I think it should be called pre-mystery. In my mind, it’s the greatest ever ‘who done it’. Agatha Christie or even Dan Brown would have been proud of leaving so many tantalising clues and artefacts about what happened so long ago in humanity’s ancient past.
So, who am I then – Holmes, Poirot or Indiana Jones?
Well, hopefully, a combination of all three as I love to solve puzzles, and this book answers the most captivating of all questions – who built Stonehenge and why? Just think of the clues on offer: strange stone monuments; relics of a bygone age; scientific evidence that seems to contradict each part of the puzzle as it’s discovered and an overwhelming realisation that this is not a game – this is reality!
I want to solve the mysteries from the dawn of our civilisation. If that fails to excite you to the bone, I guess nothing in history ever will.
To understand our ancestry, you must be able to detach your mind from the 21st century. You need to picture the land that archaeologists call the ‘stone age period’ – the problem is that your mind has already created a mental picture of either hairy fur-covered men dragging their women into the cave for fun or Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble going for a drive in their stone-mobile. Of course, neither of these images is correct or helpful.
As you read this book, you will journey with me back in history. You will need to remember that for a considerable time, the people you will read about, may have only possessed wood and flint as tools. Yet, they still had the foresight, capability, tenacity and organisational skills to build monuments that would last 10,000 years. I don’t think even our best known recently built structures – the O2 Millennium Dome, Wembley Stadium or Canary Wharf Tower – will survive for one-tenth of that time. I would strongly argue that we must give our ancestors the respect they deserve and be proud that our forefathers created such a great civilisation.
The story starts with a car journey, driving home from a family holiday in the summer of 2009. I had previously studied Archaeology at the Museum of London in the early 1990s. During my course, the standard format of materials used was poorly photocopied archaeological texts, slides and illustrations – as the use of an available overhead projector was far too modern for this type of dusty establishment. The examples provided showed that humanity originally moved from Africa to the Middle East and then finally, onwards to Northern Europe and eventually Britain. This was the sacred proven pathway of our civilisation, and if anyone dared to write an essay, even hinting at an alternative suggestion, they were branded a heretic and would be marked down accordingly – as you may begin to imagine, I fell into this category.
I have always found this ‘traditional’ model of our civilisation’s pathway to progress difficult to accept or understand. In my mind, civilisations are incredibly old and complex and need many tens of thousands of years to develop the characteristics we see today – therefore to suggest that the first farmers were migrants from Africa who travelled to the Middle East and who then transferred their knowledge onto Europe over only a few thousand years, seems totally unbelievable, naive and somewhat simplistic because in my view, that’s not how civilisations develop. I also found it surprising that the literature and teaching provided, failed to include any references to the even more diverse cultures of the Far East. So, I guess, according to traditional theories provided, the Chinese must have never discovered farming. Therefore, they must still be living in caves today, as the maps only showed Europe and Africa?
Nonetheless, it is right to say that the antiquated lesson structures and information to which I was exposed did give me an insight into how Archaeology itself has evolved – via a group of amateur enthusiasts, whose dated ‘peer-reviewed’ theories somehow remain prominent today. Many of these old academics had little to no engineering or practical skills, let alone the empathy to understand the true nature of ‘hunter-gatherers’ or the issues surrounding self-sufficiency in a hostile world (one would imagine that thinking and understanding the environment a little more like Ray Mears would have helped them considerably).
As will be revealed later in the book, often when archaeologists are given scientific evidence from carbon dating that contradicts their ‘traditionally’ held views, it’s normally dismissed as an ‘anomaly’ sadly, this institutional ‘dumbing-down’ of evidence, is all part of a well-practised archaeological (non-acceptance of new ideas) belief system, that resists any form of unauthorised change, particularly from outside the accepted academic schools of thought, who compete for media attention and financial resources.
This ‘strange’ approach to the science of archaeology can also be seen when sites are dated. A majority of sites are dated by broken pottery or flint finds discovered within the area. This tenuous link is based on the premise that ALL pottery and flints can be dated by its design or structure. In some sites, it’s absolutely correct to say that these types of finds can be a good source of evidence if it is found ‘in situ’ with other items such as coins or other carbon-dated material.
However, to rely on this as a form of evidence when pieces are found at random can be problematical, as ALL it shows is that this type of pot was used on this site (at some point in history) after this type of pot was made – and not necessarily the general assumption and ‘bad science’ that the site and this random object are of the ‘same’ time-period.
For example, during an excavation in the 1920s Colonel Hawley uncovered an 1801 bottle of port planted by William Cunningham from a previous excavation of the site. Using past and current archaeological methodology – Hawley should have dated the Stonehenge as ‘Victorian’, as technically the bottle was found ‘in situ’. Hawkins also found Roman coins in the foundations of standing stones. Still, like the bottle he had more information and knowledge about other ‘older’ finds found on the site to stop him claiming (unlike other past archaeologists) that it was a Roman temple. Sadly, this is exactly what we do currently with the antler picks found on a site!
Moreover, complete sites are dated just by fragments of pottery without any other evidence, or even random flints, as if knapped flints can be dated with any accuracy. The number can readily see this of so-called ‘iron age’ encampments found on OS maps. Most of these sites are on hills and have ditches surrounding them; therefore, archaeologists automatically classify these monuments as ‘iron age’ as the perception is that they are fortifications, built at a time of extreme violence – the iron age. However, there is not one single piece of scientific evidence to support this fanciful claim, yet we have thousands of monuments incorrectly classified as ‘iron age’ all over Britain. Moreover, this type of unsupported evidence would simply not be deemed acceptable by any other ‘science’.
Students of archaeology are taught just facts and figures and not the scientific practices of critical ‘primary source’ analysis and deductive logic within their courses, which is required to make sense to these fragments of prehistoric information – which sadly leads to blanket acceptance of flawed or tainted knowledge.
I witnessed at first-hand, this kind of prejudice when I submitted my final essay during my archaeology course in the 1990s. The theme was about Stonehenge and highlighted the conflicting evidence throughout the site. This particularly applied to the car park post holes that had been ignored by archaeologists when discovered in the 1960s and in so doing, they missed how this find could have helped to establish the true dating of Stonehenge instead of relying on the ‘loose’ pottery and antler pick evidence that was accepted as the absolute truth.
I will never forget the comments my lecturer wrote on my marking sheet, which seem even more poignant today as I write this prologue: “Would make the basis of a good book but has no credibility for serious archaeology today”. I suppose I should have been happy to have received a pass mark, even if it was only just!
Anyway, back to the plot. I was driving to London via the A303 which takes me passed Stonehenge when suddenly, the day turned to night, and a cold, eerie storm ripped through Salisbury Plain. I watched in the slow traffic as the poor tourists, in their summer clothes, ran as best they could for shelter while the traffic crept to a halt. At that point, my mind started to drift, and I looked around at the grassy fields as they began to become waterlogged.
I was driving past a point called ‘Stonehenge Bottom’, a deep ravine adjacent to Stonehenge. The hills were now feeding water down to the lowest end of the valley, and water was, very quickly, becoming very deep as it reverted back to the river it once had been. “You idiot!” I said out loud to no-one in particular.
It was a phrase I had started to use a lot in everyday life, as I had become a great admirer of Hugh Lawrie’s ‘House M.D.’ – as I could identify with the same stubborn, rebellious and analytical qualities of the TV personality. If you haven’t managed to catch any of these enthralling programmes, I’d highly recommend them as Hugh portrays a medical genius who uses a method of ‘Deductive Logic’ called ‘differential diagnoses’ to solve his medical puzzles, in the same way Sherlock Holmes used it to solve other mysteries.
The system lists the conditions found in the patient (evidence found at the site) then lists ALL the plausible reasons for this condition (all possible events that could lead to this evidence) and then applying the Occam’s razor principle: “suppose there exist two explanations for an occurrence. In this case the one that requires the smallest number of assumptions is usually correct.” And you get your solution.
This method, I’ve attempted to bring into the science of archaeology, as like medicine it has many puzzles and moreover, the professionals in the field (in my opinion) get it wrong in huge proportions. This can be best illustrated with the £550m annual compensation package the NHS pays out each year for incorrect diagnoses and treatment. It is, therefore, a ‘logical conclusion’, that the so-called ‘experts’ get it wrong all the time, especially when it comes to the sciences of archaeology and geology. This is exasperated by the fact that although archaeologists take three years to qualify and five years to obtain a PhD, medical doctors take ten years to qualify and practice, and they still get it wrong.
Meanwhile, back at the car park. The reason for my outburst was that I had driven and walked past this same spot more times than I care to remember, but I had never realised that this was a massive clue to the ‘post hole puzzle’ I had considered so many years before, in my essay.
I got off the road and returned to Stonehenge. As I entered the old car park, I was guided to the auxiliary parking spaces on the grass behind the tarmac section. There was some chaos, as attendants were busy trying to fence off a large central section of the grassy parking area as it had started flooding. Most drivers found this naturally quite annoying, but I had such a huge smile on my face that I’m sure the attendants must have thought I was insane.
You see, I had been told (by the ‘experts’) as are all archaeologists that have studied the site, that the Palaeochannel riverbed, where the car park lays on and surrounds the area, was pre-ice age (at least 400,000 years ago if not more) so consequently, the old riverbed has always been mostly ignored.
As I stood in the rain watching the river return to Stonehenge, I asked myself ‘why is the car park, still flooding?’ – If the experts were right, despite this extraordinarily heavy rainfall, should not be flooding as the ‘dry river valley’ (in which the car park was situated) had supposedly, dried up hundreds of thousands of years ago, only a significant raising of the water table would cause it to flood now – not this relatively small level of rainfall I was witnessing. Yet the evidence I saw with my own eyes told me otherwise. I knew I had to go back and look at the evidence from the start, and this time, I would question everything, not assume that the ‘accepted’ theories were correct and would literally leave no stone unturned.
Because, if the experts were wrong, this small piece of the jigsaw would suddenly reveal not only the darkest secrets of Stonehenge but the correct date of the great civilisation that had created the stone monuments of Britain.
For more information about British Prehistory and other articles/books, go to our BLOG WEBSITE for daily updates or our VIDEO CHANNEL for interactive media and documentaries. The TRILOGY of books that ‘changed history’ can be found with chapter extracts at DAWN OF THE LOST CIVILISATION, THE STONEHENGE ENIGMA and THE POST-GLACIAL FLOODING HYPOTHESIS. Other associated books are also available such as 13 THINGS THAT DON’T MAKE SENSE IN HISTORY and other ‘short’ budget priced books can be found on our AUTHOR SITE. For active discussion on the findings of the TRILOGY and recent LiDAR investigations that is published on our WEBSITE you can join our FACEBOOK GROUP.