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Chapter 2 Journal Activity

Henge world Franchise

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From my reading about henges, I believe that they are found throughout Britain and are closely related to causewayed enclosures. Stonehenge started life as a causewayed enclosure. I believe that the earliest henges are found in the north, and that the phenomenon moved southwards. They would appear to have had a specific set of purposes in the life of communities throughout Britain. If we are going to theorize about the purpose of Stonehenge, we have to look at what the causewayed enclosures were being used for.

Firstly, there is evidence that they were used for feasts, for ritual such as rights of passage, for totemic purposes, and as places of burial. Secondly, several sources, most notably Francis Pryor in his Home: a Time Traveller's Tales from Britain Pre-History suggest that they were built in clearings in the woods and/or in liminal places. Some of them may have been divided into two parts--one for feasting and one for ritual.

I think that the neolithic peoples of Britain told themselves a set of stories which they acted out in the causewayed enclosures, and that the creation of Avebury, Stonehenge and similar landscapes were the extreme version of the re-creation of these stories. In other words, the neolithic peoples went from simple storytelling to creating an environment that confirmed the reality of their stories by making the drama of acting them out more powerful. I think we see remnants of this storytelling in Morris dancing, the medieval Guild plays, and, indeed, in church ritual. Stonehenge, Woodhenge, the parade along the avenue, the journey up the river--I think it is all tied to story and drama. I just want to know what story!

Are the causewayed enclosures the parish churches of their time? Does that make Avebury, and Stonehenge the Cathedrals of their time? Are the causewayed enclosures like community theater? That would make the large stone henges such as Avebury, Stonehenge, and the Ness of Brodgar, the professional theaters? Or should we think in terms of village schools and universities?

Finally, I like the idea of stone circles as the result of a franchise like McDonald's. The basic prototype is developed, and then the plan is "sold" to local operators, who stick to certain basic rules, but hire local people to do the work.

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