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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive and insightful
A considerable volume of literature has been written about Stonehenge of varying quality and precision, from Chippendale's excellent 'Stonehenge Complete' to Druidic fantasy. The attraction for me of this book was its claim to literally solve aspects of this outstanding and enigmatic monument.

It is not until circa page 170 of its 269 pages that it ventures...
Published on 3 Aug 2008 by N. DAVIES

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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Miracle Cure for a Neolithic problem or simply more Snake Oil?
As an author on the subject of Stonehenge myself I'm always keen to read other people's views on how or why the site was built, and was particularly interested in this case because Anthony Johnson claims to have discovered simple geometric rules and methods for the number and placement of holes, posts and stones using nothing more than simple peg and cord surveying. The...
Published on 8 July 2009 by Dean Talboys


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive and insightful, 3 Aug 2008
By 
N. DAVIES (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
A considerable volume of literature has been written about Stonehenge of varying quality and precision, from Chippendale's excellent 'Stonehenge Complete' to Druidic fantasy. The attraction for me of this book was its claim to literally solve aspects of this outstanding and enigmatic monument.

It is not until circa page 170 of its 269 pages that it ventures into its claimed new territory so for those with an already good understanding of the topic it takes a while to hit its stride. But for those new to the subject the first 170 pages provide a cogent and succint summary of Stonehenge's history.

The warming thing about the author's style is his humility in explaining his rationale and analysis and how persuasive that is in drawing you into his thinking and approach. Augmented by the substance of his arguments where he conclusively proves the geometric and architectural intelligence weaved into the design of Stonehenge the author makes a genuinely important contribution to the understanding of this famous structure and has the humility to concede that there is more left to discover.

There are some issues of varying significance though, e.g. he insists that it is "impossible" to ever know the planning intent behind the Bluestone circle due to disturbance to date and incomplete excavation, yet the excavation that has yet to be done will surely add to our knowledge; he insists that no unit of measure was used in the construction of the monument as it is purely a series of scaleable geometric constructs yet admits measuring rods have been found in Bronze Age graves and the most casual observer must see that the conformity of the stone circle's height and the lintels require measurement as well as geometry - geometry gives you a plan, height and choice of diameter require measurement; he describes Hawley's suggestion of the fallen Slaughter Stone having been originally in Hole E as "inexplicable" subsequent to reporting Hawley's qualified explanation that the socket of Hole E had an imprint that resembled the base of the Slaughter Stone; most egregiously, the author repeatedly insists that the surveyors could not have surveyed the Y and Z and other holes from the centre using a cord after the stone monument's construction as the centre stones would obstruct any such cord. Equally, he requires the bank to have eroded by the time the Station Stones were being surveyed to provide the required line of sight from the ground. But the surveyors, architects and constructors of Stonehenge were not people who allowed any obstacles to get in their way whether it was bringing the Sarsens from the Marlborough Downs, the bluestones from the Prescelli mountains, erecting the 45-ton Sarsens or fashioning mortice and tenon joints to accommodate the 6-ton lintels. It is somewhat ironic that armed with a complex CAD computer the author could not envisage those responsible for constructing Stonehenge to literally circumvent the obstructing stones problem (should it have been one) by simply elevating the cord above the monument with the aid of just two tall poles attached to each end and survey whatever they chose, unimpeded by anything. (I also do not fully agree with his account of the lesser astronomical significance of Stonehenge nor the choice of 30 Sarsen uprights of the circle being simply fortuitous due to the naturally available stone sizes - there is surely much more significant meaning to the numerics and metrics of the monument than that and the builders repeatedly adapted what they had rather than be confined by what they had.)

These anomalies should not detract from the painstaking analysis and laudable effort expended by the author to create such a worthy addition to the Stonehenge canon though. Our knowledge and understanding is greatly enhanced as a result of his work and no doubt, as the author suggests, this will provide a higher platform from which future studies can start.

Now, when is English Heritage going to commission the long overdue completion of the excavation and restoration work at Stonehenge?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Book, 7 July 2008
This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
Stonehenge is National treasure and a Scheduled Ancient Monument; it is owned by the Nation, managed by English Heritage and has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1986. It is extremely difficult to get permission to go in there and start digging it up, the recent limited excavations by Darvill and Wainwright being a rare exception. That so, you'd think it was equally impossible to say anything both substantial and new about the place, but Anthony Johnson has just proved otherwise. Johnson is not only an academic but also has two decades of practical experience in survey and geomagnetics under his belt, as a commercial archaeologist. His approach to solving Stonehenge is likewise resolutely practical: he asks, and answers, how on earth Neolithic folk armed only with ropes and pegs, and bereft of modern laser-technology, could possibly construct something so elegant. His answer strongly suggests, contrary to the complex astronomical alignments proposed since the 1960s, that Stonehenge has only a single northeast-southwest axis, and that everything else is due to mirror symmetry and the circle-square geometry required to set it all out. It is an extremely simple solution.

This is not 'big science'. There are no particle accelerators and none of the hysteria one sees on the Time Team, with hordes of termite-like workers burrowing around and CGI reconstructions of Roman latrines. This is science in the style of the solitary English genius tinkering away in his workshop. Isaac Newton, from the comfort of his own study, first demonstrated that different colours of light carried different levels of energy, simply by using a prism to split a sunbeam and positioning thermometers at various points along its spectrum. Now Anthony Johnson has fathomed how Stonehenge was surveyed using only plans that were published 250 years ago and his CAD workstation, "a powerful but temperamental machine assembled for this project from a wish-list of disparate components which probably had never been brought together before, and certainly ought never to be again." With it he has generated an extremely convincing account that his colleagues will have to take seriously.

Aside from presenting its big hypothesis, Solving Stonehenge provides an ideal introduction for anyone visiting the famous monument for the first time; if read beforehand it would enhance the visit considerably. For those more familiar with the Stonehenge story, all the usual characters get their fifteen minutes of fame, but none of them to excess; their contributions and eras are summarized in a handy diagram. Likewise, the intricate dynamics of the monument itself, in the various phases of its centuries-long development, are also explained clearly and summarized in diagrammatic form. The book's gentle narrative style makes it extremely easy reading, even for those whose first language is not English. However, this is not a coffee-table book: it is a genuine contribution to archaeology. The last third of it is taken up exclusively with Johnson's explanation of how the stones were surveyed into position, and at that point the diagrams become not merely useful but essential to the explanation. Instead of degenerating into a tedious lesson in Stone-Age geometry, however, this is the moment the author chooses to make the story personal. Switching from a passive, objective voice to a more active, personal one has a dramatic effect on the text. All of a sudden the reader is working alongside the author to figure out the puzzle and in places the tension is palpable. Documenting one moment of complete frustration, Johnson admits to interrogating the long-gone builders directly: "Show me, because I have absolutely no idea." A brilliant read from page one to the very end; destined to become a classic.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant piece of work, 9 Jun 2008
By 
Mr. M. Scott - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
I was expecting the usual theories, not a bit of it, this is something absolutely new and refreshing. I had given up buying books on Stonehenge because in most the stones are hardly mentioned, this one sticks to the subject. It begins with a brief description of the setting and the origins of the myths and theories, what I found most interesting is that the book points out that every one of the so called modern ideas are actually quite old. I followed the recent BBC presentation which led with the idea that Stonehenge was a kind of Prehistoric Lourdes, thinking this was something new, not a bit of it, Anthony Johnson points out that the `healing stones' theory' dates back to the 12th century and that the famous Dr Harvey (he of the circulation of the blood fame) even dug there and asks why? But for me the second part of the book leaves every account of Stonehenge to date on the starting line. The idea that the stones were `architect designed' is so logical, and that it had to be largely worked out before it was put up is more than clear from the well argued points about the lintel joints being impossible to make on top of the stones. So in other words he must be right, the whole circle was made to match before it went up. The probable methods used by the builders to mark out the site are considered in detail, it all looks feasible, they must have worked to a plan of some kind, and it does look like geometry rather than astronomy, but then like the author says that doesn't remove the importance of the solstice alignment. Johnson argues for mid-winter being the most important because he says that's the direction in which the Big Trilithon faces. This is not a book however for people who don't want to think about the subject, if you just want another theory it's not for you, but for anyone genuinely interested in Stonehenge, this is a must, nothing short of a major breakthrough.

It is also beautifully illustrated with many new images, and I especially like the way certain difficult to grasp ideas have been presented in illustrative form, (like the debate about the bluestones, their origins and history). Bringing together on one page all the key activity for the last few hundred years is also really useful, who did what when and where is graphically presented. It's simply incredible that we had to wait so long for archaeologists to come up with a real evidence based account of Stonehenge, but now it's finally on the bookshelves. I'm going to guess that this is will open a whole new era in Stonehenge studies, long awaited and simply brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best works on Stonehenge, 29 Aug 2013
By 
J. M. Morris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
This book contains far more accurate information about the monument than any other comparable book. It is also a very good read. I have lots of books on Stonehenge (needed them for a research project).

I ended up needing to buy two copies of this: One for reference, one relatively clean. And I paid the full cover price for both.

I could go on, but the above probably says all that a potential buyer needs to know.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 28 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
An interesting approach to understanding the monument. Skilfully and persuasively argued. After reading this book it is difficult to see how anyone could argue the Sarsen was never completed or that there is any celestial alignment other than the summer/mid-winter solstice, with the focus in fact on mid-winter. A simply brilliant book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars TRULY SOLVED, 30 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT BOOK. ANTHONY JOHNSON HAS GIVEN ALL.
IF YOU ARE INTO STONEHENGE THIS IS THE ONE FOR YOU.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Miracle Cure for a Neolithic problem or simply more Snake Oil?, 8 July 2009
This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
As an author on the subject of Stonehenge myself I'm always keen to read other people's views on how or why the site was built, and was particularly interested in this case because Anthony Johnson claims to have discovered simple geometric rules and methods for the number and placement of holes, posts and stones using nothing more than simple peg and cord surveying. The book starts with a familiar introduction to the site and its key features together with the early history of antiquarian source and more reliable evidence from excavation of the site over the past 100 years. Indeed, Johnson includes some interesting observations missed by most authors. However, he then introduces the Bush Barrow lozenge, a completely unrelated artifact discovered in a tomb which, though close to Stonehenge, could never be considered archeologically connected to the stones. The lozenge contains a geometric design on solid gold plate and is remarkable in its own right IF the perceived date of manufacturer is correct - it should be pointed out that it was found on the body of a skeleton that has never been dated by a man whose record of the discovery was related secondhand. Johnson then proceeds to describe how most of the design can be recreated in 24 stages using a compass or dividers, the aim being to show a simple geometric background to the design of Stonehenge some 1000 years earlier. It is yet another example of the scientific license afforded those who uphold the orthodox archeological interpretation of Stonehenge as a truly British monument built by indigenous Neolithic farmers; not only is there no evidence for the existence of the instruments required to create the lozenge, Johnson required a computer to unravel the geometric principles behind the designs of both lozenge and Stonehenge. Far from solving the mystery of why Stonehenge was built, Johnson's work simply muddies the waters. The fact that he is an archeologist adds credence to a theory which, in truth, is no better than those linking the design to the Pyramids. No doubt over time, like so many other conformist theories, it will be adopted as fact.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars stonehenge, 14 Sep 2012
By 
G. I. Forbes (edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma (Hardcover)
This book is so dry,dense and turgid that it is practically unreadable or understandable.It may pass as an academic thesis but is totally unsuitable for the general reader.
The 17 pages of conclusions are virtually uninteligable but the authors main aim would appear to be debunking previous theories on Stonehenge without clearly stating his conclusions.
The illustrations are too small in many instances to be readable without a magnifying glass.
Definately not recommended if you want some enjoyment in your reading.
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Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma
Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma by Anthony Johnson (Hardcover - 19 May 2008)
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