Researchers have long been debating the origins of one of the UK's most famous sites. Because of its alignment with the summer and winter solstices, some believe it served as an ancient calendar, although exactly how it functioned had remained a mystery. But after thousands of years, one university professor may have found an answer.
Professor Timothy Darvill from Bournemouth University has concluded that the site once served as a giant calendar. According to his analysis, the site was created based on a 365.25-day solar year, which people used to keep track of days, weeks, and months. "The clear solstitial alignment of Stonehenge has prompted people to suggest that the site included some kind of calendar since the antiquarian William Stukeley," Darvill said. "Now, discoveries brought the issue into sharper focus and indicate the site was a calendar based on a tropical solar year of 365.25 days."
However, Darvill points out that time was calculated differently back when Stonehenge was constructed. "The proposed calendar works in a very straightforward way. Each of the 30 stones in the sarsen circle represents a day within a month, itself divided into three weeks each of 10 days," he explained. According to his article, the individual stones in the circle represent the beginning of every week, and the four stones outside the circle mark a leap day every four years - although now only two of these stones remain. An additional five-day month, represented by the five trilithons in the middle of the site, was added to the calendar to synchronize it with the solar year. Each trilithon consisted of a horizontal stone that lay across two vertical ones. The structure's alignment with the sun would easily reveal when days were miscounted, since the sun would be in the incorrect place during the summer and winter solstices.
Professor Darvill even pointed out a possible link between Stonehenge and ancient Egypt. "Such a solar calendar was developed in the eastern Mediterranean in the centuries after 3000BC and was adopted in Egypt as the Civil Calendar around 2700BC and was widely used at the start of the Old Kingdom about 2600BC," Darvill shared. He explained that Stonehenge may have been inspired by one of these cultures. We're guessing that after this discovery, we'll only be unraveling even more secrets surrounding the ancient structure.