An Australian Lynne Kelly has an intriguing theory that Stonehenge and other megalithic sites were "material mnemonic devices".
"How would the settlers avoid forgetting all their songs and stories and knowledge of the animals and plants if they were no longer visiting the memory locations their ancestors had spread across the broad countryside?
How clever of them, I decided. They’ve replicated a series of landscape sacred places in their local environment. What could be more perfect than a circle of stones, each stone representing a former sacred location, each stone acting as a memory aid?"
In Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture she expounded the theory:
"In this book, Lynne Kelly explores the role of formal knowledge systems in small-scale oral cultures in both historic and archaeological contexts. In the first part, she examines knowledge systems within historically recorded oral cultures, showing how the link between power and the control of knowledge is established. Analyzing the material mnemonic devices used by documented oral cultures, she demonstrates how early societies maintained a vast corpus of pragmatic information concerning animal behavior, plant properties, navigation, astronomy, genealogies, laws and trade agreements, among other matters. In the second part Kelly turns to the archaeological record of three sites, Chaco Canyon, Poverty Point and Stonehenge, offering new insights into the purpose of the monuments and associated decorated objects. This book demonstrates how an understanding of rational intellect, pragmatic knowledge and mnemonic technologies in prehistoric societies offers a new tool for analysis of monumental structures built by non-literate cultures."
In her new book The Memory Code: The Traditional Aboriginal Memory Technique That Unlocks the Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Ancient Monuments the World Over she furthers expands the theory : I have no doubt that the ideas about the purpose for Stonehenge will attract much of the attention, but it is only one chapter in 12. So I have put the Table of Contents below so you can see the extent of the book. It covers more ground than Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, but without all the academic justification.
"I have had a great deal of contact in recent weeks from the memory community, including memory champions on three continents! I have also been asked to write an academic essay for Rounded Globe on indigenous memory methods and implications for contemporary thinking. It will be titled Grounded: indigenous knowing in a concrete reality and free for all. This is part of the move for academics to communicate beyond the expensive academic journals and paywalls. Taxpayers pay for the research – taxpayers should have access to it."