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Chapter 1 Journal Activity

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Journal Activity 1: Stonehenge Landscape


We should definitely think of Stonehenge as a landscape, both in a literal and figurative sense. It is clear that there is a practical relationship between the river, Durrington Walls, Bluestone Henge and Stonehenge. Parker Pearson's trope of the realm of the dead linked to the realm of the living by the river and the road, is a powerful image that can be traced on the landscape. The addition of the pink algae in the Blick Mead pond, the glacial lines in the bedrock, and the three large standing posts, would seem to add an earlier layer of symbolism to that same landscape during the Mesolithic period, before the landscape was altered by the henge world of the Neolithic.

What seems to be missing are the characters of the narrative. The human mind forms narrative to explain and communicate, and the stories that we create have enormous power and longevity. In a recent article in Scientific American, Julien d'Huy claims to have traced some myths as far back as the Paleolithic (Scientific American, December 2016). He references stories of the Cosmic Hunt, Pygmalion stories, and Polyphemus (Man stuck in a cave) myths. The evolution of these myths can be traced following the migration of homo sapiens out of Africa and across the world. He claims to have found images in Paleolithic rock art that share the same motifs as some of these stories.

It would be fascinating to examine folk traditions of Wiltshire, and see if any of the narratives could be "fit" into the landscape--or if any of them are re-tellings of the archetypal myths that d"Huy references. I would begin by looking for early saints associated with churches in the region, as sacred stories tend to be retold with new vocabulary when new religions come into power. The story elements should involve a journey, water, stone--and perhaps a transformation of one thing into another.

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