Riddles in Stone


Book Details

Author  Richard Hayman
Publisher  Hambledon & London
Publication Date   November 1, 2003
ISBN  1852851392
Pages  336

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Who built Avebury and Stonehenge? Why and when were more than 600 stone circles, and thousands of barrows and cairns, erected in prehistoric Britain? What were they used for and what do they tell us about the beliefs and culture of their builders? Riddles in Stone is a history of the extraordinary variety of answers that have been given to these questions, by amateurs and professionals, archaeologists and astronomers, mystics and systems theorists. The puzzles that intrigued the antiquaries John Aubrey and William Stukeley, and the gentlemen barrow diggers of the nineteenth century, are in some ways still as elusive today as they were in the seventeenth century.

While modern excavation and radiocarbon dating has undoubtedly advanced our knowledge of the sequence and date of the monuments, their purpose and meaning is still hotly debated. Indeed no previous century has changed its mind so often as the twentieth - or provided such a welter of differing opinions. Each theory has as much to say about its own time as it has about prehistory. The stones have been used to enhance the authority of the Bible, to endorse the civilising mission of the British Empire - and to argue that the Ancient Britons could work a computer. In a reaction to modern industrial society, they have been credited with spiritual powers and natural energies.

Even the views of modern archaeologists often seem to reflect the latest academic fad, rather than a lasting solution. Riddles in Stone is an entertaining and instructive account of a debate on a subject of endless fascination.

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