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A set of photos from a Russian web-site apparently show Stonehenge being built in the 1950s, rather than the more customary dates of 3000-2000 BC.

Stonehenge

An conspiracy theory web-site Max Resistance attempts to explain the claims in English:

1954 PHOTOS SHOW STONEHENGE BEING BUILT

Was Stonehenge built (or rebuilt) in or around 1954?

  • @Oddthinking I needed an explanation, in order to make sure that this is not a hoax. As the photos shows that the installation takes place on an empty area, and it is not reconstructed old individual stones. – federk Apr 20 '16 at 13:21
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    @federk: When you say "to make sure this is not a hoax", we needed some claim to determine what the hoax might be. Photos are not claims by themselves. It still isn't 100% clear what the claim is. The Max Resistance web-site seems to claim that Stonehenge was built in 1954 AND that there are pictures of it before then. – Oddthinking Apr 20 '16 at 13:35
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    @DavePhD: Right. I am having trouble with understanding the claim, because of the spectrum between "Stonehenge was only created in 1954" (surely not a serious claim, he says hopefully) and "Stonehenge was secretly rebuilt in the 1950s, as part of a massive consipiracy for geopolitical reasons" to "Stonehenge was patched up several times in the 20th Century, but some tourist brochures don't mention it." to "Stonehenge has been left, pristine, for 4000 years." – Oddthinking Apr 20 '16 at 15:46
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    @Oddthinking on the same note, I've heard that parts of the Great Wall of China have been reconstructed during the 20th century for tourism purposes. (At least I think it's for tourists - or was it to keep the rabbits out?) – Andrew Grimm Apr 21 '16 at 12:16
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    @federk: A major problem with the fake Stonehenge as justification for British history theory is that it is not unique. There are many stone circles in Britain: Avebury (which is big enough to have a small town inside it), Castlerigg in the Lake District, Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney... There are also many other Neolithic sites like Skara Brae, not to mention all the stuff the Romans left behind. I doubt that building all that (faking appropriate weathering &c) in the 20th century would be possible. – jamesqf Apr 21 '16 at 17:35
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The photograph in the OP is by R. J. C. Atkinson, January 1958 and its caption is:

STONEHENGE, Wiltshire. Re-erection of Trilithon lintel 158 by the 60 ton 'Brabazon Crane', the larger of two cranes used to lift stones. The lintel is being lowered and man-handled into its final resting position on upright stones 57 and 58

While Stonehenge definitely existed before 1954, with photographs going back to the 1867, it has not been simply left to the forces of nature over the past couple centuries, but instead has been subjected to further human activity such as stabilization and restoration efforts.

See RESEARCH REPORT SERIES no. 06-2014 STONEHENGE WORLD HERITAGE SITE LANDSCAPE PROJECT ‘RESTORING’ STONEHENGE 1881-1939 for historical photographs and an explanations of modern changes to the site in that period of time and later.

Numerous references, such as Stonehenge by Malone and Barnard confirm that:

In 1958 a 60-ton mobile crane was used to restore the stones that had fallen in 1797 and 1900

And according to the New Scientist article Concrete evidence:

virtually every stone was re-erected, straightened or embedded in concrete between 1901 and 1964...

...The first restoration project took place in 1901. A leaning stone was straightened and set in concrete, to prevent it falling.

More drastic renovations were carried out in the 1920s. Under the direction of Colonel William Hawley, a member of the Stonehenge Society, six stones were moved and re-erected.

Cranes were used to reposition three more stones in 1958. One giant fallen lintel, or cross stone, was replaced. Then in 1964, four stones were repositioned to prevent them falling.

The 1920s ‘restoration’ was the most “vigorous”, says Christopher Chippindale of the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. “The work in the 1920s under Colonel William Crawley is a sad story,”

For early descriptions of Stonehenge, see the 1740 Stonehenge: A Temple Restor'd to the British Druids and the 1747 Choir Gaure, Vulgarly Called Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain. Unfortunately Google Books omits many of the drawings in these books, but the 1747 is considered the earliest quantitatively accurate description.

Between pages 32 and 33 of the 1740 book, there is a drawing of Stonehenge dated August 1722, showing that it was reasonably similar then as now.

Stonehenge as photographed in 1867 (see second link in answer above):

enter image description here

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    "it is not in its natural condition" -- in the case of the bluestone its "natural" condition is to be buried in a rock seam in Wales, right? ;-) – Steve Jessop Apr 20 '16 at 15:11
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    @SteveJessop I'm pretty sure Dave means its "original" condition. – Mr Lister Apr 20 '16 at 15:15
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    I guess I mean nature wasn't simply allowed to take its course in the past several hundred years, but instead Stonehenge has been intentionally changed by human activity. – DavePhD Apr 20 '16 at 15:20
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    @Mr Lister: But exactly what constitures original condition? The way it was in 1950? 1890? In Shakespeare's day, or when the Romans were in Britain? Or the way it was when the builders finished it? Since it is a product of human activity, it is and always has been "intentionally changed by human activity", – jamesqf Apr 20 '16 at 17:54
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    The full version of the report is very interesting, and goes into a lot of detail about the changes that have been made. The original claim seems to have more merit than its initial appearance would suggest, although of course it comes down to semantics around what is meant by 'build' versus 'restore'. Interesting issue though. – A E Apr 21 '16 at 10:23
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In order for this MASSIVE STONEHENGE CONSPIRACY to work, the conspirators would have to avoid some basic slip-ups... for example, taking photos of the construction process, or talking openly about their work to the national newspapers and inviting people to come visit.

“Anyone who comes to Stonehenge just now in a fortunate hour may see a wonderful sight. He may see the lintel stone of one of the mighty trilithons, swathed in timbers and gripped in the clutch of a crane, dangling in mid-air over its two pillars.” (Salisbury Times, April 1920)

As the article reports, Stonehenge was reconstructed a bit in those years: visitors had chipped so many souvenirs off the trilithons that they were in danger of collapsing, so they were filled in with concrete.

More photos and additional disorganized debunking is available in this forum thread.

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    The photo in the OP is from a more recent rebuilding/restoration around 1958, not the one in 1920. – DavePhD Apr 20 '16 at 14:47
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    Visitors were really chipping off souvenirs? That's appalling. Even an idiot knows that if you keep chipping away at a tree it's going to fall down – Xen2050 Apr 21 '16 at 12:15
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    @Xen2050, well, yes, but wouldn't you rather get your chip before that happens? – Karen Apr 21 '16 at 13:17
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    The idea of ancient monuments as national treasures is comparatively new. Before then they were just ordinary private property. There are even stories of landowners demolishing ancient buildings because they were tired of people coming to look at them. – Paul Johnson Apr 23 '16 at 12:53
  • Could've been worse, like a lot of the mounds in Missouri that were demolished (I guess they were hills of dirt, not quite as obvious as stonehenge). Some are still on private property, this tribe bought one @PaulJohnson – Xen2050 Apr 25 '16 at 19:57
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Was Stonehenge built in the 1950s?

It is very easy to find evidence of the sites existence from non-British sources prior to 1950.

Just to take the first couple of examples that I found


1843

The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau: Volume 1: 1834 - 1848 By Henry D. Thoreau

He wrote in his journal on November 1843: "In the oldest poems only the most simple and enduring features of humanity are seen, such essential parts of a man - as stonehenge exhibits of a temple"
...
Carlyle and Emerson visited Stonehenge, to which Emerson devoted a full chapter in English Traits.


1918

Roadside America

America's first replica of Stonehenge ...

Sam Hill was the visionary who heaved up this 'henge, a wealthy railroad and utilities magnate who was also an early crusader for modern roads.

Hill bought 7,000 acres of empty land along the Columbia River in 1908. He founded a town named Maryhill, and tried to lure Quaker farmers to settle it. None came. A few years later the town burned in a fire.

In 1918, Hill surveyed what was left of Maryhill, chose the most dramatic spot (a windswept promontory high above the river), and knocked down an Inn that he had built there. Then he began erecting a full-size, astronomically-aligned replica of Stonehenge.


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    How was the effort in 1918 a mistake? – JDługosz Apr 21 '16 at 19:28
  • @JDługosz according to the 'Roadside America' article, it was based on the belief that the original was used for human sacrifice, so a replica would be a metaphor for the sacrifice of war. The author of the article considers this belief incorrect, despite a few recent reports similar to archive.archaeology.org/0009/newsbriefs/stonehenge.html – Pete Kirkham Apr 22 '16 at 10:19
  • So it was a mistake because it didn't symbolize what he thought it did? The phasing makes me think that he did not intend to build it – JDługosz Apr 22 '16 at 12:48
  • @JDługosz: Its a mild example of journalistic hyperbole. The author wants to hook you into reading the whole story by making a controversial statement in the first sentence. In this case it means that Sam Hill intended to build a town for Quakers but what he ended up with was a replica of Stonehenge. The actual mistake was one of market research or of marketing. P.S. The employment and precise meaning of this journalistic device by the unidentified author of the article I quoted is an irrelevant distraction from the point of my answer. Please try to not let it divert you too far :-) – RedGrittyBrick Apr 22 '16 at 13:30
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Stonehenge is really neolithic.

Because it has a neolithic context. Many neolithic places have been found, like Stonehenge and near Stonehenge... They became visible with the help of radar,

What happened in 1950-1954... It's the awful business of "restauration" I'm afraid. On many of these neolithic megaliths, non-reversable changes were performed over the centuries, to "preserve the arrangement". With skill.. or without skill, resulting in irreversible and harmful changes to the monument, like the one described here.

On the other hand, if we don't attempt to preserve this kind of heritage, parts will simply break off. Fall to the ground. Unless documented, any restoration will cause information to get lost, details in the original context to get lost. For archaeologists, Stonehenge is not that interesting any more.

Which does not mean I did not enjoy my stay last time, as a tourist, a few years ago. This place really breaths the past! It is impressive to see the surroundings of Stonehenge in the morning dawn.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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protected by Oddthinking Apr 22 '16 at 15:38

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