BOOKS ANSWERING THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS LIKE
'WHY WAS STONEHENGE BUILT? '
For books that sift the evidence and propose plausible answers to the most demanding questions you must turn elsewhere:
What was Stonehenge for?
What motivated the design plan which led to the nested circles and the U-settings?
Why trilithon arches, and why so many?
Why a midsummer sunrise alignment?
Why is there a focal stone that sparkles in the sunshine but which is illuminated by the sun for only a few minutes annually, at midsummer sunrise?
Why were circular rings dug around the Heel Stone and only two of the four Station Stones?
What was the most plausible function of the Station Stones?
What was the nearby Stonehenge Cursus earthwork built for?
Only one book has answered any of these questions realistically without bias, and that book has answered them all. It is:
The Secret of the Solstice.
ISBN 0-285-63375-9 1997
Taking into account all the known facts of archaeology, science and ancient religion, the author explains these mysteries in terms of the universally-adored, world-renewal fertility/creation myth called the Sacred Marriage or The Marriage of the Gods; for this inspired the device by which the cosmic fertilisation of a female deity on Earth was achieved by visible revelation --- namely, the midsummer mating of the rising sun (via its radiant light) with a female standing stone (mis-named the Altar Stone at Stonehenge) inside a womb-like setting of stones.
This Cult Stone or focal stone, which sparkles in even weak sunlight because of its myriads of tiny mica mirrors, was the object of the cult. It is set at the focus of several circles and U-settings which together specify the Earth Mother's organs of generation. The intention appears to have been to ensure the security and fertility of the people's world by means of a dramatic midsummer spectacle which everyone could witness and understand.
In other words, it is proposed that Stonehenge is a womb-shaped temple designed and raised in a spirit of belief and devotion much like the hundreds of thousands of womb-shaped Hindu temples which also house an icon of the divinity set deep in the womb-cell and known to the Hindus as the garbha grha.
What is more, at Stonehenge and some other ancient British temples (the cove at Avebury is pre-eminent) the effect initiated by the solar component was completed by the shadow-casting of an additional stone. At Stonehenge this was the Heel Stone, and its phallic shadow followed the sun into the womb, until the shadow, too, fell upon the frontal basal part of the Cult Stone.
This plausible theory for Stonehenge and Avebury
was the subject of a major broadcast on terrestrial TV in 1998 and 1999
4, Britain) and Satellite TV (Discovery Channel,
Worldwide), and its general principles
including the primary Mother Earth concept were well-supported by participating
archaeologists of international standing.
The book is obtainable from
Secrets of the Avebury Stones is the most comprehensive book on
ancient Avebury ever written --- a valuable book at £12.99 that guides
you to every stone. In addition, many neighbouring sites are described
in depth, above all West Kennet Long Barrow. The book is unique
for its photographs of the dozens of stones that depict human heads---most
of them partly carved---which can be seen at Avebury by the inquiring visitor
to Avebury. There is also an important chapter with photographs of
the huge, newly-discovered, realistic, carved, face on a trilithon at Stonehenge.
Reviews of Avebury Books
THE SECRETS OF THE AVEBURY STONES
by TERENCE MEADEN. ISBN 0-285-63501-8
Published by Souvenir Press, 43 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3PA. 1999. Softback £12.99
1 from The Guardian.
"Dr Meaden's passion for the ancient temple has revealed what only years of study could have revealed: the faces, signs and symbols that appear in certain lights and sometimes only at certain times of the year. Plenty to allow us to contemplate what it was to have your whole world revolve around the sun and the fertility of the world. A book that promises many happy hours of stonegazing." Desmond Christy
2 from Sir Ludovic Kennedy.
"As a long-time resident of Avebury I have to say that Dr Terence Meaden's well-illustrated book has been a revelation to me. Previously the stones had never had much to say to me, but now under his guidance I am enabled to see them with re-awakened eyes."
3 from Fortean Times
"Essential reading for all megalithomaniacs". Terence Meaden's singular unravelling of the mysteries of the Wessex megaliths continues apace. The book includes plenty of excellent photographs which note the time of day and date they were taken to enable budding Avebury head-hunters to locate and examine the megalithic faces for themselves. This tremendously-illustrated book clearly shows that the heads are there. Confirmation of Meaden's radical theory could be pursued by looking for heads of a similar style to those described here at other sites." Neil Mortimer.
[Yes. Similar heads have now been reported from over 20 Stone-Age sites].
4 from Northern Earth
"An agreeable and well illustrated discussion of the megalithic complex at Avebury . . . His investigations culminate in a stone-by-stone examination. The author is to be commended for putting in an enormous amount of fieldwork and producing this visual feast." Mike Haigh.
5 from Peter Knight (in course of publication)
"The sheer scale of the prehistoric stone circles and avenues of Avebury together with the surrounding monuments such as
Silbury Hill is astonishing. The huge stones have fascinated visitors and researchers for generations. Yet the monument has
not yielded its secrets easily, and only then to those with eyes and knowledge to see beyond the norm. Professor Terence
Meaden would appear to be one such scholar. He seems to have unlocked some of the enigmas of Avebury with a series of
startling discoveries, and with this latest book submits his findings to scrutiny. I found it to be one of those precious works
which only comes along every now and then, one which literally takes one's breath away with its content and implications.
After providing a detailed introduction to the known history of the monument in the opening two chapters he embarks upon a guided tour round every one of Avebury's standing stones, and gives evidence that some 60 anthropomorphic forms, i.e. human heads and faces, are on display on the megaliths, as well as 40 more on other stones in the surrounding landscape (Kennet Avenue and West Kennet Long Barrow). Ample and persuasive proof of this claim is to be seen in nearly one hundred black-and-white and full colour photographs. Each has the date and time in the caption to enable the evidence to be checked by the visitor. Meaden points to the subtlety of the profiles --- unseen 'spirits' --- many of which are visible from only one direction. Usually there is a well-formed, prominent nose and mouth, and always there is an eye. He informs us that at the henge over 50 of the perceived heads are left-facing as opposed to only 9 right-facing ones; and argues that this proves the authenticity of the forms because a chance, random selection of faces would have given a 50-50 split of left- and right-facing heads. In fact, Terence Meaden provides convincing evidence that some of Avebury's stones were fashioned by human effort, a concept undeveloped previously.
In addition, Dr Meaden reinforces the belief, initiated by Alexander Keiller and Stuart Piggott no less, that the stones were
assigned gender. Of the 44 surviving stones inside Avebury, he defines 43 as female and only one as male, which is a much
greater pro-female bias than previously thought. Moreover, his discoveries of remote and isolated megaliths forming a rough
circle a mile or two from Avebury is noteworthy for a landscape which was thought to have been 'done to death' by
researchers. A penultimate chapter about Stonehenge allows the author to announce his discovery of the famous
carved face on the side of a trilithon there.
What I like so much about Dr Meaden's book is that because dates and times accompany the photographs we can all go to
view the heads for ourselves. Even the new astronomical information can be verified by others because all necessary
information is given. For me he has brought Avebury alive, articulated it, and re-established it as a sacred place with subtle,
pleasing art-forms. "The henge is a prehistoric art gallery", he states; and who can doubt this claim when backed up by so
much sound evidence. Yes, at first I had to ask myself whether all the heads were for real, or the result of tricks of light; but
his work is methodical and thorough as he demonstrates that sunlight is such a vital component for many of the sculptures.
Moreover, the principal heads found inside West Kennet Long Barrow are incontestably the result of carving, for these stones have never been subject to weathering. Symbology was certainly, it appears, a concept that was echoed all around the ancient world, from the Americas to Egypt and India.
I can recommend this book as a vital and accessible handbook for any Avebury visitor and megalith enthusiast. It
is an outstanding, ground-breaking work; although I fear that its high academic achievements may initially be underrated by
some people as great works occasionally are." PETER KNIGHT (author of Ancient Stones of Dorset, and Sacred Dorset)
The book is obtainable from
The Levant, Mesopotamia, India
and China, the book is a scholarly study of the
development in these regions, commencing before the start of the Neolithic
Age, of civilisation and the state or city-states. It is a
model of good writing and expert analysis from an author who has specialised
in the prehistory of Mesopotamia and the Near East since his Edinburgh
doctorate in 1984. I was particularly pleased to see the Indus
Valley civilisation included and China as well -- and a further chapter
on Japan would have been welcome too.
The opening chapter which sets the scene is excellent but as the periods under study are partly contemporary with Western Europe's megalithic/Neolithic period I would have liked readers to be reminded of this from time to time. The concept that all early societies pass through the sequence of 'band' to 'tribe or clan' and 'chiefdom' before arriving at a civilised state is here justly challenged. Dr Maisels shows that complex societies can evolve without social classes and the state, and effectively proves it with regard to the Indus Civilisation. At the end of each chapter Dr Maisels has usefully employed Gordon Childe's 10-point criteria (here reorganised as 12) for deciding upon the arrival of the Urban Revolution. He himself recommends (p 25) the reader, towards the end of the opening chapter, to jump to the final one (p 342 et seq) to absorb the contents of the summary of the checklist given there before embarking on the intervening chapters which treat the various areas.
This is a fine book for general reading by anyone interested in archaeology, and considered very useful for undergraduates.
Published by Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London, EC4P 4EE, and 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001. £40.00 h/b. 479pp. 1999.
General Archaeology / 2000
ASTON, MICK. Mick's archaeology. pbk, UKP 9.99, Tempus Publishing, Feb 2000. ISBN 0 7524 1480 1
General Archaeology / late 1999
BALDWIN, JOHN D. Prehistoric nations: inquiries concerning some of the great peoples and civilisations of antiquity. 414pp, facsim ed, pbk, UKP 42.00, Soc of Metaphysicians, Oct 1999. ISBN 1 85810 367 3
DELSON, Eric et al . Encyclopedia of human evolution and prehistory. 2nd ed, UKP125.00, Garland, September 1999, ISBN 0815316968
DREWETT, P L. Field archaeology: an introduction. 216pp, 100 ill, UCL Press, June1999, hbk. UKP60.00, ISBN 1 87528 737 1; pbk, UKP19.95, ISBN 185728 738 X
ELLIS, Linda (ed). Archaeological method and theory: an encyclopedia.
UKP140.00, Garland, October 1999. ISBN 0815313055.
EVANS, John, & O'CONNOR, Terry. Environmental archaeology. pbk, UKP14.99, Sutton, August 1999, ISBN 0750917792
MORRIS, IAN. Archaeology as cultural history. Blackwell, August 1999. hbk,UKP60.00, ISBN 0631201696; pbk, UKP16.99, ISBN 0631196021
PASQUINUCCI, Marinella & TREMENT, Frederic (eds). Non-destructive techniques applied to landscape technology. UKP45.00, Oxbow Books
General Prehistory / 2000
MUDD, ANDREW et al. Excavations alongside Roman Ermin Street, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire: the archaeology of the A419/A417 Swindon to Gloucester Road Scheme. Vol 1: Prehistoric and Roman activity. 650pp, 265 figures, 132 tables, 53 illus, pbk. UKP60.00, Oxford Archaeological Unit, Jan 2000. ISBN 0 904220 17 6
PALMER, DOUGLAS. Atlas of the prehistoric world. 224pp, UKP19.99, Marshall Publishing, Jan 2000, ISBN 1 84028 255 X
General Prehistory / late 1999
COONEY, Gabriel & GROGAN, Eoin. Irish prehistory: a social perspective. 276pp, new ed, Wordwell, pbk, 1999, ISBN 1 869857 28 3
GILCHRIST, Roberta. Gender and archaeology: contesting the past. 208pp, Routledge, August 1999, hbk, UKP40.00, ISBN 0 415 21599 4; pbk, UKP12.99, ISBN 0 415 21600 1
JOHNSON, Matthew H. Archaeological theory: an introduction. 224pp, 15 illus, Blackwell, August 1999, hbk, UKP50.00, ISBN 0 631 20295 1; pbk UKP14.99, ISBN 0 631 20296 X
KRISTIANSEN, KRISTIAN. Europe before history. 506pp, 16 illus, new ed. New Studies in Archaeology, pbk, UKP17.95. Cambridge Univ Press, Dec 1999. ISBN 0 521 78436 0
McINTOSH, Jane. The practical archaeologist: how we know what we know about the past. Pbk, UKP12.95, Thames & Hudson, September 1999, ISBN 0500281815
TAYLOR, TIM. Ultimate "Time Team" companion: an alternate history of Britain. 224pp, 200 col ill, UKP20.00, Channel 4 Books, Nov 1999. ISBN 0 7522 1819 0
Stone Age: Neolithic and Palaeolithic / 2000
RITCHIE, Anna (ed). Neolithic Orkney in its European context. UKP 45.00, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Reserch, January 2000. ISBN 190293704X
RUDGLEY, RICHARD. Secrets of the Stone Age. 196pp, UKP18.99, Century, hbk, Jan 2000,. ISBN 0 7126 8452 2
Stone Age: Neolithic and Palaeolithic / late 1999
BARBER, MARTYN et al. Neolithic flint mines in England. 108pp, 46 ill, pbk, UKP25.00, RCHME, Nov 1999, ISBN 1 873592 41 8
BARCLAY, Alistair (ed). Pathways to reality: Neolithic cursus. UKP24.00, Oxbow Books, August 1999, ISBN 1900188422
BUTTER, RACHEL. Kilmartin: Scotland's richest prehistoric landscape - an introduction and guide. 112pp. pbk, UKP14.95. Kilmartin House Trust, July 1999. ISBN 0 9533674 0 1
GAMBLE, CLIVE. Palaeolithic societies of Europe: the Palaeolithic settlement of Europe. 448pp, 2nd rev ed, Cambridge World Archaeology series, UKP60.00, Cambridge Univ Press, Oct 1999, ISBN 0 521 65105 0;
527pp, pbk, UKP22.95, ISBN 0 521 85872 1
PAYNE, Robin. Romance of the stones. Cornwall's pagan past. 280pp, Alexander Associates, May 1999, hbk, UKP45.00, ISBN 1 899562 21 8; pbk, UKP18.99, ISBN 1 899526 668
RUDGLEY, RICHARD. Lost civilisations of the stone age. 308pp, pbk, UKP8.99. Arrow
Books, September 1999. ISBN 0 09 922372 4
RUDGLEY, RICHARD. Written in stone: a journey to the lost civilisations of the Stone Age. 352pp, UKP20.00. Century Pub Co, Nov 1999. ISBN 0 7126 8452 2
WAKEFIELD, J.J. ... August 1999. Nod Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK.
WHITTLE, Alasdair, POLLARD, Joshua & GRIGSON, Caroline. The harmony of symbols: the Windmill Hill Causewayed Enclosure, Wiltshire. UKP 45.00, Oxbow Books, December 1999. ISBN 1900188899
OTHERS / 2000
OTHERS /late 1999
CASTLEDEN, Rodney . Ancient hill figures of Britain. 112pp, pbk, UKP7.50. SB Publications, August 1999. ISBN 1 85770103 8
CUNLIFFE, Barry. The ancient Celts. pbk, UKP14.99, Penguin Press, September 1999, ISBN 0140254226
JORDAN, Paul. Neanderthal. UKP 20.00. Sutton, October 1999, ISBN 0750919345
PITTOCK, Murray G. H. Celtic identity and the British image. pbk, UKP10.00, Manchester University Press, December 1999, ISBN 0719058260
ROWLEY-CONWY, Peter (ed). Animal bones, human behaviour. pbk, UKP30.00, August 1999, ISBN 1900188880
Most of these books are available from