Friday, May 15, 2009

Stonhenge Visual Orientation

Photographs and illustrations of Stonehenge often do not provide precise geographic orientation for the normal viewing reader, who in his mind's eye may then tend to see Stonehenge more as a simple stone circle rather than as a group of differentiable megaliths intentionally positioned by ancient man to serve a specific function.

The graphic above is a scan by Andis Kaulins of a fold-out Stonehenge survey map from the year 1810. One scan was made of each map half and both then pasted together on a PC using graphics software to create one image.

The original survey map is found glued to the inside margin of page 55 of William Long's book, Stonehenge and its Barrows, published in Devizes in 1876 from the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, vol. xvi, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.

The map gives the same view from the bottom upwards as the photograph below.

These two graphic images thus provide an excellent frontal view of Stonehenge combined with a matching "aerial" perspective of the larger megalithic site. Stonehenge is thereby viewed along its main axis, which is the Stonehenge Avenue, usually just called the Avenue. Gerald S. Hawkins in his book Stonehenge Decoded (p. 54) writes that the 30 sarsens were spaced uniformly as an outer circle with an average error of less than 4 inches, but "At the northeast, precisely--as might be expected--on the midsummer sunrise line, there was an entrance to this circle, made by spacing two stones (1 and 30) 12 inches farther apart than average". This is quite apparent in the photograph.

The large fallen stone a bit to the left at the top of the avenue is the Slaughter Stone, which is not as famous as the Heel Stone, not pictured here because yours truly, the photographer, like the rising sun, is standing at the location of that Heel Stone looking down the Avenue toward the awaiting Stonehenge sarsens and trilithons.

The survey map has a main caption reading "Ground Plan of Stonehenge" and thereunder the words: "Transfered to Stone, from the Original Copper Plates, by the kind permission of J. Bruce Nichols Esqre".

Stonehenge : Some Basic Facts

Megalithic Site Name:

* Stonehenge


* United Kingdom, England


* Salisbury, Amesbury

Local Location:

* Salisbury Plain

GPS: 51°10'44" N, 1°49'35" W
Grid: SU 1224 4218
Monument No.: SU 14 SW 4
Unique Identifier: 219434


* On the A344 off the A303, 2 miles W of Amesbury & 9 miles N of Salisbury

Site Access:

* English Heritage & National Trust Members admitted free. Adults £5.90. Children £3.00. Concession £4.40. Family (2 adults + 3 children) £14.80. Closed Dec. 24-26 & Jan. 1. Opens daily 9:30 a.m. (9:00 June 1 - Aug. 31). Closes 4:00 p.m. (Oct. 16 - March 15), 6:00 p.m. (March 16 - May 31, Sep. 1 - Oct. 15), 7:00 p.m. (June 1 - Aug. 31).


* English Heritage
* The National Trust

Protection Status:

* World Heritage Site