Why would you want to build a henge? Michael Flanders, above had an idea but really, can we say for sure what drove our ancestors to take time out from their busy schedules, to down tools, fold away the sheepskin troos and join the Masons at the Chip and Chisel for a little communal sarsen stoning?
No. Someone lost the planning permission and Wiltshire County Council is notoriously bad at paperwork.
But there are these bright coves who go around Britain and Ireland and the rest of Northern Europe comparing and contrasting the various henges and other monumental structures and drawing some tentative conclusions. These they laid out for punters like me to browse at the British Museum. At least with Stonehenge I don’t have to feel guilty that we nabbed these rocks from lands far and foreign when the locals weren’t paying attention.
And in truth those ideas are fascinating. Still, it boggles my mind that at a time when it was pretty much subsistence living, a significant cohort was given time off to drag some bloody huge lumps of rock from where the earth and glaciers and what have yous had dumped them and bring them to what is after all a pretty unprepossessing part of Wiltshire. There was a fair bit about flint which, while I think it’s amazing what the managed to make with a rock chisel bit pall a little…
Yet for a long time this whole drag, chisel, erect, repeat process was the equivalent of going to the footie or church: some act of apparently pointless devotion. Without the meat pie. But probably with a sermon.
In time, the introduction of metal working, the portability of votives and so forth meant the guys with their fixation on priapic rocks began to look less like, well, rock stars. They’d had their time.
Though quite why they were displaced by chaps with beakers defeats me. I suppose it’s not how big your beaker is but what’s in it that counts…
Do go and see this exhibition if you get the chance. It’s grand speculation of the mind-widening kind. With flint.
Oh, and a sea henge. Only in Norfolk are they sufficiently daft to build a wooden henge in the sea.