Tuesday 30 April 2024

Natural terrestrial corridors from across Britain to Stonehenge

Joseph Lewis @josephlewis1992 writes on X Natural terrestrial corridors from across Britain to Stonehenge*

  • Least-cost paths (lcps) calculated using ordnance survey 50m DEM (aggregated to 100m)
  • lcps calculated to minimise energy expenditure
  • lcps sum aggregated using a 1km window
  • 2,322 lcps calculated to Stonehenge from across Britain 

 * not to be taken too seriously - mainly for fun, e.g. does not incorporate rivers, assumes that movement optimised for reducing energy expenditure

Click to embiggen

Without a filter all roads lead to Stonehenge


Monday 29 April 2024

Was Woodhenge made of inverted trees?

Playing with new tools and returning to an old idea that, as with Seahenge, Woodhenge  was originally inverted trees. Under a canopy of roots would have been a powerful experience, a world turned upside down.


Saturday 27 April 2024

The Natural Corridor for the Bluestones Route

A fascinating and opportune paper has been published which sheds light on the likely route that the Bluestones were brought along from Wales to Stonehenge.

Estimating the Scale-Dependent Influence of Natural Terrestrial Corridors on the Positioning of Settlements: A Multi-Scale Study of Roman Forts in Wales 

Joseph Lewis  @josephlewis1992

University of Cambridge 0000-0002-0477-1756 

He shows the "natural corridors", identified by analysing "the path of least-resistance from a chosen origin and destination location based on costs associated with traversing" it. He is interested in the Romans, but what have they ever done for us? Far more interesting is the implications for earlier populations and their routes.

The paper is admirably brief and understandable and is well worth reading.

One simple map from it, slightly enhanced for this format, shows how the A40 route, or the version of it just undertaken by Keith Ray, is the natural route for the Bluestones to have been brought along, with or without help from river transport.

Click to embiggen - adapted from Fig 3 "walking with rivers acting as potential conduits for movement"


I look forward to further work using this technique.

I have compared the  southern natural routes to the Drovers Roads in Davies, Margaret. Wales in Maps. United Kingdom, University of Wales Press, 1958. 

Map from https://twitter.com/jackthurston/status/1373233813611016196/photo/1

And to the modern road network - base map from https://ontheworldmap.com/uk/wales/detailed-map-of-wales.html

Click any picture to embiggen

They show the question of whether to follow the A40 route to Monmouth or loop north to Hereford. Keith Ray preferred the latter as it leads to an easier crossing of the River Severn.

They also show that the natural route, and incidentally a Roman road, cut off the Llandovery corner of the A40. There is a valley route they follow.   

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Doubting the overland transportation of the stones is insulting to our Neolithic ancestors.

Professor Keith Ray, a university professor and archaeologist, embarked on an extraordinary journey—a 222-mile trek through the Welsh and English countryside. His mission? To reach the iconic Stonehenge on schedule. But this wasn’t just a leisurely stroll; it was a quest to trace one of the possible routes that Neolithic peoples might have used to transport the massive megaliths from the Preseli Hills in Wales to the Salisbury Plain.

On Sunday, April 21, Professor Keith Ray achieved his goal, arriving at Stonehenge. Along different sections of his walk, he was joined by numerous academics, archaeologists, and other experts who accompanied him to learn about the terrain first hand. The journey took less than a month, and it provided valuable insights into the ancient landscape.
Win Scutt, senior properties curator for English Heritage, labeled Keith’s trip an “absolutely astonishing, heroic achievement”. At the seminar about the trip it was emphasized that doubting the overland transportation of the stones was insulting to our Neolithic ancestors and researchers were urged to have appreciation for their capabilities.
Keith Ray’s low-tech research method led to an interesting discovery: a route through the hills and mountains between Wales and England that never required more than a 20-degree climb. Along the way, he was joined by over 20 other academics. Keith observed that the lines of travel often followed ancient paths, demonstrating how the ancients navigated the landscape by going with the land and following the path of least resistance.
Kate Churchill, an archaeologist at Churchill Archaeology in Monmouthshire, walked part of the way with Keith. She found the experience comparable to walking during Neolithic times, allowing her to “stop and look at the landscape and be inspired.”
Professor Keith Ray’s remarkable journey sheds light on the historical connections between Wales and Stonehenge, revealing the ancient pathways that once connected these distant lands.

(Press release via Microsoft CoPilot)

Saturday 20 April 2024

Walking the Bluestone Route

Professor Keith Ray, of Cardiff University, started his 230-mile walk from the Preseli Hills on 2nd April 2024 and is planning to reach Stonehenge on 21st April. 

"He designed the long-distance route and is walking its length on consecutive days, to explore the landscape through the eyes of Neolithic people and visualise how the land may have looked over 5,000 years ago. Those taking part in the experimental walk have reflected on the choices and challenges which the stone-carriers may have faced if they had travelled along the same route. 

It’s thought that this is the first time that the journey has been made on foot in modern times.In doing the walk, Keith aims to bring public attention to the possibility that overland transportation of the stones by ancient peoples may have been possible, by following one of the potential routes that would have been taken."

Monday 15 April 2024

Summary of the 2024 Lunar Alignment Investigation


Unveiling the Celestial Connection: Stonehenge and the Moon

The Major Lunar Standstill

Stonehenge, that ancient and enigmatic monument on the Salisbury Plain in England, is renowned for its solar alignments. However, did you know that it may also have a deep connection with the Moon? In the year 2024, a rare celestial event known as the major lunar standstill is set to occur. But what exactly is this phenomenon?

  • Major Lunar Standstill: Unlike the sun, which follows a roughly annual cycle, the Moon’s movements are more rapid. Moonrise and moonset shift from their northernmost to southernmost limits and back within a month. However, there’s more to the story. Over approximately 18.6 years, the limits of moonrise and moonset change significantly. The major lunar standstill marks the time when the northernmost and southernmost moonrise and moonset are farthest apart.

Stonehenge’s Lunar Clues

  1. Early Phase of Stonehenge: Between 3000 and 2500 BCE, long before the massive stones were erected at Stonehenge, people were burying cremated remains in the surrounding ditch and bank. These cremations clustered in the southeastern part of the monument, pointing toward the most southerly rising position of the moon. Interestingly, three timber posts were set into the bank in this direction.

  2. The Station Stones: Stonehenge originally had four Station Stones, although only two remain today. These stones align with two extreme positions of the Moon. The long axis formed by these stones also shares the same orientation as the southernmost moonrise during the major standstill. Was this alignment deliberate? And if so, what purpose did it serve?

  3. Enduring Connection: The Station Stones might have played a role in measuring out the sarsen circle around 500 years after the site was initially used for cremations. This suggests a compelling and enduring link between the lunar cycles and Stonehenge’s architecture.

Investigating the Phenomenon

  • Collaboration: English Heritage, along with experts from Oxford, Leicester, and Bournemouth Universities, as well as the Royal Astronomical Society, is embarking on an investigation. They aim to study the alignment of Stonehenge’s ancient stones with the moonrise and moonset during this almost once-in-a-generation event.

  • Debate and Discovery: Researchers continue to debate whether Stonehenge’s lunar alignments were deliberate and how they were achieved. This year provides a unique opportunity to explore and unravel the mysteries of this ancient site.

In summary, Stonehenge’s relationship with the Moon goes beyond mere speculation. It’s a celestial dance that has captivated humanity for millennia. As the major lunar standstill approaches, we eagerly await new insights into the ancient monument’s lunar connections.


  1. Daily Mail: Rare lunar event sheds light on Stonehenge’s connection to the moon
  2. The Guardian: Once-in-a-generation lunar event to shed light on Stonehenge’s links to the moon
  3. MSN: New Hampshire businesses gearing up for Monday’s solar eclipse, increased tourism
  4. English Heritage: Stonehenge Major Lunar Standstill

See also the refences below in comments

Saturday 13 April 2024

Stonehenge: Sighting the Sun by Clive Ruggles, Amanda Chadburn

Stonehenge: Sighting the Sun by Clive Ruggles, Amanda Chadburn - Books on Google Play is available as an ebook (£40)  or  £32 from https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/book/10.3828/9781802074673 

The printed version will be available at the end of May.

Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient monuments in the world and its solar alignment is one of its most important features. Yet although archaeologists have learned a huge amount about this iconic monument and its development, a sense of mystery continues about its purpose. This helps fuel numerous theories and common misconceptions, particularly concerning its relationship to the sky and the heavenly bodies. A desire to cut through this confusion was the inspiration for this book, and it fills a gaping hole in the existing literature.
The book provides both an introduction to Stonehenge and its landscape and an introduction to archaeoastronomy—the study of how ancient peoples understood phenomena in the sky, and what role the sky played in their cultures. Archaeoastronomy is a specialism critical to explaining the relationship of Stonehenge and nearby monuments to the heavens, but interpreting archaeoastronomical evidence has often proved highly controversial in the past. Stonehenge: Sighting the Sun explains why. It makes clear which ideas about Stonehenge are generally accepted and which are not, with clear graphics to explain complicated concepts.
This beautifully illustrated book shines new light on this most famous of ancient monuments, and is the first in-depth study of this fascinating topic suitable both for specialists and for anyone with a general interest.
Source: Publisher

Woodhenge Unveiled: A Surprising Sibling of Stonehenge

Dr Amanda Chadburn in the pre-publication publicity for her and Clive Ruggles book: Stonehenge: Sighting the Sun has been talking to the Daily Telegraph about Woodhenge

The ebook is available for £40 at: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?pcampaignid=books_read_action&id=Nff-EAAAQBAJ or £32 from https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/book/10.3828/9781802074673

“We’ve dated different parts of Woodhenge and ... discovered that it was a two-phase monument and that its solstice-aligned timber rings were earlier, constructed around 2600BC – and is therefore broadly contemporary with the sarsens at Stonehenge."

“It’s significant because it proves that Stonehenge was not a one-off within the landscape.

“It shows that people who held their ceremonies or religious rituals in these monuments were looking at the sun in a similar way [at the same time].”

In their book, the academics write:“Some of the most common misconceptions about Stonehenge concern its connections with the heavens… As a result, a bewildering collection of contradictory accounts about Stonehenge and its ‘astronomy’ are available in bookshops and online.”

Dr Chadburn said: “People have said it was used to predict eclipses or it was aligned on the equinox. People claim all kinds of astronomical alignments for Stonehenge, but when you examine them very critically, the evidence doesn’t back that up.”

Sunday 7 April 2024

A Wiltshire Thatcher - not just Rock and Roll, also Rocks.

Click to embiggen

Within the Wiltshire Museum exhibition - A Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex there are is delightful section of Stonehenge pictures, both the original 1892 ones and comparison ones taken this year on similar equipment, with a video looping to show the process.

Well worth a visit, with many other fascinating pictures on display including the iconic Wiltshire Thatcher: