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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No answers but a great overview
After describing, at the start, where Stonehenge is and who owns it, the author says "At this point we come, almost, to the end of the uncontested facts". So she concentrates instead on how Stonehenge and its 'meaning' have been argued over, and even fought over, across the centuries. How it's been taken a symbol of authentic Britishness - or of Roman, Danish, Phoenician,...
Published on 11 Mar 2010 by Bob Ventos

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly a book on Stonehenge
This isn't a book that gets to grips with all the truly interesting things about Stonehenge. In fact the title of the book, Stonehenge, is a bit of a misnomer since Stonehenge only seems to be a running theme rather than the subject of the book. If you're looking for a book that explores the meaning of Stonehenge, why it was built, how it was built, how it is aligned with...
Published on 30 Dec 2011 by J Bakewell


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No answers but a great overview, 11 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
After describing, at the start, where Stonehenge is and who owns it, the author says "At this point we come, almost, to the end of the uncontested facts". So she concentrates instead on how Stonehenge and its 'meaning' have been argued over, and even fought over, across the centuries. How it's been taken a symbol of authentic Britishness - or of Roman, Danish, Phoenician, Mycenaean or space-god influence. How its dating has kept changing (and still is); its enduring associations with King Arthur, Druidry, The Wicker Man and astronomy; and its fascination not only for antiquarians and academics but also for the counterculture, the Earth Mysteries movement, and ordinary tourists.

The book does look at the archaeology: the three-phase building (with the sarcen stones now dated to about 2580-2470 BC), and the enduring puzzle of how the bluestones could have been brought to the site from Wales. And it reminds us that it's not an isolated monument, but is part of a whole network of earthworks in the area - including its equally mysterious wooden counterpart, Durrington Walls.

What becomes really clear though, is how influential Stonehenge has been on British culture. Over time, people have thought it a temple, an observatory, a hospital or spa, a monument to ancestor-worship, a royal burial ground, or even Stone Age sculpture. It's featured in the arts from Wordsworth to Spinal Tap via Thomas Hardy and Barbara Hepworth. It has inspired strange follies, and influenced unlikely areas of British architecture from Bath to Covent Garden to Milton Keynes. Finally the book reviews how the solstice has been celebrated there on and off since the 1870s with the Free Festivals, the Battle of the Beanfield, and the current 'open access'.

The final section talks about the ongoing problems with conservation, access, the Visitor Centre, the underpass and the main roads; and provides a useful reading list, and handy advice on visiting.

Although I thought that it veers a little too far from Stonehenge at times (onto pretty tangential-seeming stuff like `Zadok the Priest' or Churchill College), and (despite its cultural-history approach) ignores the _really_ wacky ideas that are about, I thought it was clearly-written, amazingly wide-ranging, and - like Stonehenge itself - totally fascinating!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly a book on Stonehenge, 30 Dec 2011
This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
This isn't a book that gets to grips with all the truly interesting things about Stonehenge. In fact the title of the book, Stonehenge, is a bit of a misnomer since Stonehenge only seems to be a running theme rather than the subject of the book. If you're looking for a book that explores the meaning of Stonehenge, why it was built, how it was built, how it is aligned with the sun, moon and stars, this book is not the one you want. This is really a book of the history of Antiquary and Archeology and how Stonehenge has been (mis)interpreted through the ages.

It is not an entirely uninteresting book but it told me very little about the things I am truly interested in.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Complete, 22 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Kindle Edition)
It covers manifold aspects. Very interesting but also enjoyable to be read it gives an idea of the evolution of thought through the different interpretations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read., 2 Aug 2011
By 
Alan Davies (Aberdare. Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
This is a lovely book; well written and easy to read. All books written about Stonehenge of course are more or less histories of the theories and ideas that successive writers have presented to us. We can never know what the monument stands for, but we can speculate, with each age seeing it in the light of their own prejudices and mindsets.

This book is no exception, but it's presented to you in a form that is gripping, and gives you much food for thought. I read it in two days, and wished it could have gone on, but it left me feeling frustrated that we know so little about the monument itself and the people who built it. Rosemary Hill could not tell you that, but she could certainly give you a greater appreciation of something that has become almost like an archetype in our minds. Her book is a worthy addition to the volumes of literature that have been written about Stonehenge and the ages in which it was built.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stonehenge, by Rosemary Hill, 31 July 2011
This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
This is a first class little book, combining thoroughness and erudition with clarity and understated humour. It describes the whole history of the study of Stonehenge - from the 17th century onwards - lucidly and economically. Much to be recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A witty account of Stonehenge through the ages, 12 Mar 2011
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
Hill opens her book by stating that there are very few uncontested facts when it comes to Stonehenge, and this is less an account of Stonehenge's origins and purpose, than a history of how it has been viewed, received, and treated through the centuries. The chapters cover 17th and 18th-century antiquaries, architects such as Inigo Jones and John Wood, romantic artists and writers, Victorian geologists and archaeologists, and 20-century day-trippers and new-agers, ending with an overview of the present debate over what is to be done with the monument.

This all adds up to a comprehensive and entertaining survey. Various characters are introduced, each having their own (often bonkers) theory as to who built Stonehenge and for what purpose. These people were often eccentrics and Hill describes them wittily, for example there is Jens Jacob Worsaae, an archaeologist who 'on his more important excavations..liked to be accompanied by a brass band', and the polymath John Lubbock who spent three months trying to teach his poodle to read 'without success'.

The Druids, despite having nothing to do with the origins of Stonehenge, since the 17th-century have been a constant companion to the monument. They form a thread running through Stonehenge's story and Hill wryly describes their fortunes over time. Her deadpan style is often hilarious such as in the following description of the Edwardian magazine 'The Druid':

"It carried advertisements of interest to readers in search of a 'Druidic Haircut and shave', a Druid convalescent home or a bona fide sample of magic cork."

I decided to read 'Stonehenge', having enjoyed Hill's first book, a biography of the architect Pugin (God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain), and I was very glad to see the Tigger-ish Earl of Shrewsbury, who was a patron of Pugin, making a re-appearance here:

"At Alton Towers in Staffordshire the fifteenth Earl of Shrewsbury added to his collection of pagodas and fountains a 'Stonehenge' which stood between the Gothic temple and the cottage belonging to the Earl's personal harpist. It rose, not very imposingly, above the conservatory."

The book also has several well-chosen illustrations and photographs, including a 17th-century engraving of the original wicker man, and striking depictions by Turner and Blake of Stonehenge as a place of 'psychic dread'.

If you're looking for a comprehensive archaeological account of Stonehenge, I wouldn't recommend this book, but as a history of the last six hundred years, seen through the prism of the stones, it's brilliant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 22 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Kindle Edition)
Very well thought out and executed ! A very good touchstone when looking into any and most of the main theories throughout time about Stonehenge. Was a great and easy read-would recommend to anyone with any kind of interest in Stonehenge :)
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The PERFECT Christmas gift, 11 Dec 2008
By 
Lucy Sisman "Lucy S" (New York) - See all my reviews
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Look no further - this is it. 'Stonehenge' is the perfect Christmas gift. It's brilliantly written, incredibly interesting (Stonehenge took 70 generations to build!?!), the book appeals to all ages, it's not too long, not too big, not expensive, besides we all feel passionate about Stonehenge as it's a vital part of our heritage. Don't forget to buy a copy of this wonderful book for yourself.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Summer Solstice, 5 April 2009
By 
Jill Chisholm - See all my reviews
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From Mrs E Cumming

Rosemary Hill does so well in "Stonehenge" to combine erudition with all the acadmic dryness taken out of it somehow... there must be the most intense research, not a reference missed from earliest in 937 to the present, and this takes us through all sorts of literature, art, history, cultural periods, it is really compelling and makes me determined to visit Stonehenge properly with all this information bringing the whole thing into bright light instead of just staring and being overawed in an ignorant greyness..
I like the way she starts by declaring that the book supports none of the theories! Then throws out so many that you wonder how she managed to stay objective herself.

And there are bits of humour, like Dr. Johnson being so dismissive... "there is neither art nor power in it" and he wouldn't want to see any more such, thank you very much... and what about Aubrey and friend having dinner on top of one of the trilithons !
And the connections with the architecture of Bath, Piccadilly Circus and even Milton Keynes...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 26 Sep 2014
By 
Christine M (london england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stonehenge (Paperback)
How good it is when a subject is treated in such af ascinating
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Stonehenge
Stonehenge by Rosemary Hill (Paperback - 25 Jun 2009)
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