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Stonehenge

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Chapter 3 Journal Activity

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The Influence of Geoffrey of Monmouth

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Geoffrey of Monmouth’s interpretation of the Stonehenge monument has influenced popular ideas about the site for centuries. Though his myth of ‘Merlin as architect’ has been debunked, it along with Roman accounts, have painted Stonehenge as a place of great magic and helped establish a link between the monument and the Druids. Though it has been proved that Stonehenge existed long before both the stories of Merlin were written and before the Romans arrived in Britain, the idea has stuck in the public imagination. So much so, that modern day Druids have incorporated the site into their religious ceremonies and can still be seen worshipping at the monument at the Summer and Winter Solstice. Much of the conversation surrounding the preservation and presentation of the site today takes into account the wishes of these neo-pagan groups.

‘History of the Kings of Britain’ was also the first place that recorded a link between Stonehenge and the act of healing. This idea has been draw on, despite the lack of physical evidence, to try and explain everything from why the Bluestone were brought from the Preseli Hills in Wales (they lay at the head of a healing spring) to why the Amesbury Archer, a man from the Alpine region of Europe was buried near Stonehenge (he had travelled there for healing).

Finally, there are traces of truth in the Monmouth myth. Though he couldn’t have known the factual origin of the bluestones, serendipitously, he identified them as been brought over the sea from Ireland. Though the specifics are not accurate, it is now widely accepted that the bluestones were indeed from far to the West (though Wales, not Ireland, was there original home) and many have speculated that the stones were carried by sea and river to their current location. Through these details we can see the how parts of the Monmouth myth still influence our perceptions of Stonehenge to this day.

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