Sunday 14 January 2018

The Great Trilithon may not be the one you think it is.

From Stonehenge Friar's Heel Great Trilithon By Henry Bates From the Junior Munsey, May 1900.

The name "The Great Trilithon" was originally applied to the largest complete trilithon still standing at Stonehenge in Victorian times, stone 53, 54 and 154. This is the iconic trilithon that has featured in a myriad of souvenirs and some texts.

But as it wasn't originally the tallest trilithon the name has often transferred across to the now fallen Central Trilithon (Stones 55, 56 and 156 ) which was.


Mea culpa, mea máxima culpa, I have oft taken the name of the Great Trilithon in haste to mean the Central Trilithon.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim,

    As one among many latter-day researchers, the term 'Great Trilithon' has always meant the central stack. That said, it is in ruins, so doesn't have the majesty of its intact neighbor, the so-called South Trilithon. This being complete and of dramatic proportions, it's little wonder that it co-opted the name, seen in a number of printed places in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today the reference is considered quaint, though still tends to confuse the less-informed.

    The mythos of the term 'Heelstone' and 'Friar's Heel' has a completely different provenance, which is problematic. In the 17th century John Aubrey attributed the name to Stone-14, which has a curious inclusion resembling a footprint near its bottom. Local tradition maintained that it was made when, by 'Art Magick', Merlin absconded with the stones from Ireland and had it flung at him by the Devil.
    Great stuff!

    I think the title we now associate with the outer, rough-hewn stone, comes from a bastardization of the word 'Helios', latin for sun. Over the centuries the term for either was mixed and matched till it stuck to the outer stone, with -14 being forgotten.

    The pictures are interesting, in that I assume them to be pre-Gowland, and makes me wonder at the three piles of chalk seen on the way out to the 'Helios Stone'.