The World of Stonehenge

Review by HB.

This accessible and richly informative book, produced to accompany the World of Stonehenge exhibition at the British Museum (CA 384), treats Stonehenge as a ‘gateway’ into the interconnected worlds of British, Irish, and European prehistory.

Wooden poles erected 10,000 years ago, near the site of the later monument, are the starting point for a wider exploration of Mesolithic hunter-gatherer beliefs and practices, while Stonehenge itself is presented as emblematic of the ‘new age’ of sedentary living and monument-building that developed in the Neolithic following the inward migration of farmers from mainland Europe. The monument’s construction c.5,000 years ago, its development, and its relationship with celestial phenomena is discussed alongside the archaeology of further Neolithic and Bronze Age structures made from earth, stone, and wood, in a narrative interwoven with analysis of carved objects, cosmologically-significant metal items, rock art, tools, pottery, funerary practices, and more.

Drawing together a dazzling array of artefacts and archaeological and scientific findings, this is a well-researched, lavishly illustrated volume.

The World of Stonehenge, Duncan Garrow and Neil Wilkin, The British Museum Press, £25, ISBN 978-0714123486.