15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
a brilliant piece of work, 9 Jun. 2008
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.