Startup

Startup: Big Stone Markers

Church, temple, alien aerodrome, or prehistoric calendar?

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year… and man, did it ever feel like it. Traditionally, the Solstice has been a very significant day in pagan religions, and there are monuments surrounding the globe that were used to mark this day with stunning precision. While the technology behind their orientation would not necessarily be all that complex — marking shadows over the progression of summer months would likely accomplish the required result — the sheer scale of some of these constructions boggles the mind.

Perhaps the most famous is Stonehenge, in the South of England. It is a monument constructed on a simply massive scale by a people who have left no evidence of advanced tools or construction methods. With the pyramids in Egypt, we at least have fairly substantial evidence of the tools and methods used to construct them; and while the scale of these projects is astonishing, it is well within the apparent realm of possibility for the technological level of Egyptian society at the time. Stonehenge, on the other hand, remains something of a mystery. Scientists are not only divided on the techniques used to construct it, but there is considerable debate on where the stones even came from.

As it turns out, the most recent theory suggests that marking of the solstice and prehistoric astronomy were likely tasks that were only secondary to its intended purpose. It now appears that Stonehenge was the site of a fairly large burial grounds, combined with a ritual of ancestor worship. Certainly nothing as glamourous as some theories would have you believe.

Today, of course, we mark the Summer Solstice not with giant monuments, but with an extra beer on the patio. Hey, you have your rituals, I’ll have mine.

  • Alff

    Great photo. Hard to believe it's only 12" tall.

  • tonyola

    It's the Magic Circle for that long-closed theme park, DruidWorld.

  • SSurfer321

    Every summer solstice I have to celebrate the fact that 3 years and two months after I was born, my parents had sex.
    (Little brother's birthday)

  • dmilligan

    The summer solstice is my wedding anniversary, so I dare not forget it. Celebrate it? Yeah, sure, that's the ticket, that's what we'll do, we'll celebrate it. Yeah…

    • OA5599

      How do you celebrate during leap years, when the soldtice falls on a different calendar day?

      • tonyola

        It's the sun's position that defines the solstice, not the calendar date. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_solstice

        • OA5599

          I oversimplified things, since in the Northern Hemisphere usually the summer solstice falls on the 20th during leap years and the 21st in other years, but yes, it is a function of the tilt of the earth relative to the sun instead of being something made up by executives at greeting card companies or however other holidays originate.

          • dmilligan

            Nyah, nyah, nyah to you. (Thanks tonyola). Actually I'd celebrate it like always: just like I'm told to.

  • Number_Six

    I really enjoy how people pretend to be Druids and dance around the thing like it's a nightclub. The builders of Stonehenge very likely pre-dated the Celts and their Druidic beliefs. However, given the frequently-violent nature of religious belief in that era, I highly doubt there was any harmless drunken revelry going on no matter what religion was being practiced. The solstice at the height of Stonehenge's power probably resembled last week's Vancouver but a lot more stabby and bludgeony.

    • highmileage_v1

      You know, maybe there were drunken fertility rituals practiced at Stonehenge? Kinda like what happens at university every pub night.

    • dmilligan

      Too bad that there isn't a type of Luminol that works on ancient blood. I'd bet that if you sprayed it and hit it with the lights, it would light up like New Year's in London.

      • Number_Six

        It would be awesome if we went back in time and found a nice millenia-old picnic going on.

  • dmilligan

    You're very welcome. Now you don't have to resort to the "Emergency Flowers" routine.

  • dmilligan

    I don't know who would wail louder; the wanna-be Druids or the scientists.

  • There is a cement replica here in Washington state…

    <img src="http://www.takemytrip.com/images/448_IMG_1330.jpg&quot; width="500">

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryhill,_Washington

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