Stonehenge has long been a source of mystery and fascination for archaeologists and scientists, and a new discovery has led to some major excitement in the community.
While researchers still aren’t exactly sure of the importance of the winter solstice sunset, they now believe that ancient carvings on the stones–which have been rendered all but invisible over the years due to the elements’ wear on the surface–were meant to be especially noticeable during the dying light of day, creating a sort of Bronze Age art gallery.
Image: English Heritage
New 3D laser technology allowed archaeologists to discover the carvings, which aren’t visible to the naked eye anymore; among the images were several axe heads, which they say were clearly meant to be seen on a path in the direction of the setting sun. Lending further credit to their hypothesis is that not all of the stones have carvings in them. The pattern seems to dictate a fondness for a very particular time of day at a certain time of year, but why that should be, no one knows just yet.
“This extraordinary new evidence not only confirms the importance of the solstitial alignment at Stonehenge, but also show unequivocally that the formal approach was always intended to be from the north east, up the avenue towards the direction of midwinter sunset,” Professor Clive Ruggles said. “We see how the utmost care and attention was devoted to ensuring the pristine appearance of Stonehenge for those completing their final approach to the monument at the two times of the year when sunlight shines along the alignment – when those approaching had the midsummer rising sun behind or midwinter setting sun ahead.”
Earlier this year, the discovery of prehistoric cave drawings made headlines after archaeologists found that moving a lit torch across the wall of a particular cave produced a rudimentary sort of animation, where once it was a mystery as to why certain images should be doubled or tripled.