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Stonehenge for all
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It has been said that every age has the Stonehenge that it deserves and it is true that over the past centuries Stonehenge has been viewed by successive generations in a wide variety of ways. After the scientific advances of the XIX century, when it was realized that Stonehenge was in fact a product of native Britons, without any exotic influence, the XX century saw a resurgence of alternative ideas. For the first time humans could look beyond their own world and so it is hardly surprising that extraterrestrial influences were seen in Stonehenge – suggestions reinforced by the appearance of mysterious crop circles in nearby fields.

Stonehenge for all

A procession of Druids in 1950s.

In terms of function, Stonehenge has long been regarded as a temple – the prehistoric equivalent of a great cathedral – but it has also been interpreted as a symbol of commemoration for historic battles and an observatory for recording the movements of sun, moon and stars. In an age in which the computer symbolized the height of achievement it was, again, hardly surprising that Stonehenge was interpreted as an ancient computer: the pattern of its standing stones endowed with hidden meaning and mathematical significance. In recent years, Stonehenge, which had for a time been a focus of conflict centred on a summer solstice, has become a focus for celebration. To many, in an age where there is resurgence in earth religions and new paganism, Stonehenge is once again a living temple, a place where the ancient seasonal festivals and ancestors can be commemorated. So alongside the modern Druids, who have had now over a century of association with Stonehenge, people of all nations and all beliefs come to celebrate.

Stonehenge for all

This elaborate crop circle appeared in a field near Stonehenge at about the time of the Summer Solstice in 1996.

Local perspectives

Stonehenge for all

Richard Crook photographed on his first birthday with his father Norman (right) and his grandfather Isaac (left).

“Isaac Crook, my grandfather, moved here from down the road in 1908. Isaac farmed Normanton Farm – that’s why my father’s called Norman. Isaac kept his pigs and horses behind Stonehenge in the Royal Flying Corpse Hangars – it still miffs me that they flattened seven tumuli to build them.

In 1915, there was a big sale. Isaac was the underbidder to Stonehenge. He bid 6500 pounds - and it was sold for 6600 to a chap by the name of Cecil Chubb.
By the Sixties I’d left school and was running riot. One year, the news reported two incidents at Stonehenge: a custodian’s cap had been nicked, and one strand of barbed wire was broken – well, I broke that, getting over the fence!

A gang of us had been to a dance until the small hours and afterwards we went to watch the sun rise at Stonehenge. I then started work at seven. I can remember that 21 June was a hot day that year because the staff stuck my head in a water trough when I went to sleep driving a tractor.

The best place to see the sun set on Stonehenge is from a neighbouring farm. The farmer’s related to me because his son married my daughter. And my other daughter married another farmer round the stones.”

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