Stonehenge Phase I (The Stonehenge Landscape)

Extract from the book: The Stonehenge Enigma

Looking at the most important prehistoric site in Britain, Stonehenge and it’s landscape, we are asked by archaeologists to consider that it is an astronomical calendar showing the rising and setting of the Sun, Moon, etc. This assumption may be partially correct, but why would you place the site in an area were trees would obscure your view – if you wish to study the sunrise and sunset, with any great accuracy, would you not locate your site at the highest point available?

So why was Stonehenge built where it is, rather than at the top of the hill just 500 metres away that is 30 metres higher – especially considering that the builders took the trouble to get stones from 200 miles away in Wales, for what possible reason would they stop short of obtaining the best setting?

As there is no observational advantage to placing the site in this location, we must therefore conclude that it was access to the area that was of paramount importance.  If we look at a standard Ordnance Survey (OS) map of Stonehenge, it outlines the landscape and topology of the surrounding area by showing the contours of the hillsides. But it does not give you a clear idea of how Stonehenge sits in the landscape; for that, we need to look at a profile of the area.

Figure 9 – Profile of Stonehenge (east to west) and the Palaeochannel that it sits beside.

Amazingly these profiles of Stonehenge show that it was built on the shoreline of a vast river complex. We can see this evidence on any elevation map, where we find that Stonehenge is sited halfway up a ‘Dry River Valley’ (Palaeochannel) known as ‘Stonehenge Bottom’. 

Figure 10 – Stonehenge with the River Avon as it would have looked in 8000BCE.

Our hypothesis and case study on the river Avon indicates that the groundwater tables during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods were as high as river terrace T9 (Egberts et al., 2019), which was 100m high.  This would mean that the river Avon would have filled the dry river valley with groundwater 30m above the existing groundwater table – when this happens, the profile changes dramatically.

And so suddenly, the impossible becomes possible, the implausible becomes credible, and myth becomes fact, for these profiles can only indicate one conclusion – Stonehenge was built on the side of a hill surrounded by water!

These amazing features are not just found on a single side of the monument; we can go around the whole circle to see these watery features.  I believe these profiles tell the entire story of Stonehenge. A picture is said to paint a thousand words; these pictures show that our most famous ancient monument was once a magnificent feature in the landscape on the edge of a peninsula, surrounded by water.  Now that we have shown that water existed at the Stonehenge site during Mesolithic and Neolithic times, we can re-sequence the events and building phases.

Figure 11– Profiles of Stonehenge showing the River Avon around the Stonehenge Peninsula

Further Information on the Stonehenge Landscape can be found at: