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Is Stonehenge A Fake Megalith?

By James Donahue

Among the odd conspiracy stories found on the web is a report, complete with authentic photographs, of what appears to be the construction of the Stonehenge rock formations and dated 1954.

If you Google search, you can find both stories and video footage proclaiming that this famous prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, has been a hoax all along. So can we believe this?

Archaeologists and historians have been speculating and examining the Stonehenge rocks for hundreds of years. We know this because they have been writing about their various theories as to the origin of the megalith, and how anyone might have put such heavy stones together an estimated 5,000 years ago.

Twelfth Century English writer and cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth left us with a fanciful tale. He wrote that Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father, called upon Merlin the magician to move the stones from Mount Killaraus, Ireland, and locate them near Amesbury as a memorial to 3,000 nobles slain in battle against the Saxons.

According to the Geoffrey story all of this happened during the Fifth Century. Thus we must assume that Stonehenge was in place at the time Geoffrey was inking his romantic tales about King Arthur who allegedly lived some 500 years earlier. Also, according to Geoffrey, Stonehenge was already in existence in Ireland before the stones were magically moved to England. He wrote that legend had it that they were placed on Mount Killaraus by giants.

So if Stonehenge has been standing this long at Wiltshire, how could we have photographs depicting what appears to be the construction of this ancient monument in 1954?

Believe it or not, Stonehenge has gone through at least three known restorations in the last century. They were done to preserve the monument as it was originally found because the great stones were dangerously close to collapsing from natural erosion.

The first major restoration was directed by William Gowland in 1901. This involved the straightening and concrete setting of stone 56, which was in danger of falling. During the work the stone was moved about half a meter from its original position.

While already doing construction work at the site, Gowland went further and conducted the first major scientific excavation at the site.

The second big restoration occurred in 1958, not 1954 as falsely reported in the video stories. At this time three of the standing stones were re-erected and also set in concrete bases.

Then in 1963, after stone 23 of the Sarsen Circle fell over, contractors moved in and restored the stones, this time laying concrete support under even more of the stones.

Photographs of this work were taken and in 2004, English Heritage published them in a book titled Stonehenge: A History in Photographs. These appear to be the images appearing in the Internet stories.

Without the contemporary restorations, Stonehenge would be nothing more than a pile of collapsed boulders. Visitors would miss the sense of the wonder that the stones offer in their original state.