Chapter 1 Journal Activity
A Shared Culture
Although we can do no more than speculate as to the exact nature of the significance of Stonehenge and the many significant structures apparent in the landscape, it must mark a time when some form of unifying ritual and practices were adopted to develop a degree of social cohesion. Stonehenge must be seen in the context of the surrounding landscape as even before the Neollthic period it was an area used by Mesolithic peoples for feasting, witness Blick Mead. They seemed to travel from great distances and there appears to be an overlap between the two periods. So the ritual sites of the Mesolithic and the Neolithic, stretching over a large area suggests that this area held an importance that was not just local. To look at Stonehenge and assess its significance, we must understand it in the context of other sites in the area.
People seem to have organised in groups, maybe kin groups, to perform astonishing feats of engineering. Maybe fealty was owed to tribal leaders and thus the labour was a tribute, that ensured inclusion. If the bluestones are indeed from Preseli, this was an enormously expensive enterprise in terms of effort.
These were a sophisticated people who lacking a written language created a visual language and rituals to create a sense of identity and make sense of the world. The positioning of the stones in the henges, in relation to the solstices, is enough to show this.
The landscape is relatively flat and many structures would have been visible from each other. Thus the stones cannot be viewed in isolation from the surrounding structures in the landscape.