chapter  4
21 Pages

STONEHENGE ABANDONED?

Until quite recently it has been assumed that although Stonehenge went through several phases of construction and modification it still remained in continuous use; this is implicit, even if not actually stated, in much of the Stonehenge literature.1 Refined radiocarbon dates nevertheless show that Stonehenge I, the Stonehenge discussed in the previous chapter, was built a very long time-nearly a thousand years-before Stonehenge II (discussed in Chapter 5). Evidence from the layers of sediment lining the earth circle’s ditch shows that there was a period in between, perhaps lasting several hundred years, when Stonehenge was abandoned. As long ago as 1921 Colonel Hawley sensed that something peculiar had happened: ‘At some time in the history of Stonehenge, and perhaps for a long period, there must have been a considerable amount of vegetation covering the site.’2