What was Stonehenge really about? North Wessex is an area of England that contains Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, the most significant elements of which monuments were erected about 4500 years ago. In 1969, the M4 motorway was cut from east to west through the same landscape. It’s highly likely that, in 4500 years from now, the reinforced concrete bridges will have turned to soil, as will the road surface. Only the long, sinuous earthworks will remain, winding for 40 kilometres across the Downs. Stripped of its pretence as an essential utility, this modern monument may then be seen in its true context. The magnitude of the motorway building endeavour was incomprehensible to its 1969 builders, as was that of their predecessors at Stonehenge. All failed to notice that they were taking part in the same timeless and indecipherable metaphysical struggle. Only one engineer and his well-read female associate glimpse the irony – when they interpret the meaning of markings on a bronze artefact they find in the roadworks. This metal circle containing 60 divisions originally belonged to the Stonehenge chief engineer. For 4500 years his consciousness had been anxiously waiting for his gift to be found. Unfortunately, being an early, but fervent advocate of scientific realism, he hadn’t quite understood, and was having a few problems in 1969.

In passing: please note that the most difficult engineering problem in building Stonehenge was not the movement of the sarsens into an upright position. It was getting the circle of lintels to sit in a horizontal plane. There were thirty uprights.

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