Stonehenge may have served as a solar calendar Kids News Article

Professor Timothy Darvill believes the 30 stones in Stonehenge’s Sarsen Circle represent the days of the month. (Garethwiscombe, CC BY 2.0/ Wikimedia Commons)

Archaeologists have long speculated that Stonehenge, the prehistoric stone circle in Wiltshire, England, was a kind of astronomical timing due to its perfect alignment with the summer and winter solstices. However, they struggled to determine how the calendar worked. Now Professor Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University in the UK may have finally solved the mystery. The expert thinks the 5,000-year-old man neolithic monument served as a solar calendar for local residents.

“It’s a perpetual calendar that recalibrates each winter solstice sunset,” says Darvill. “This would have allowed the elders who lived near the monument in what is now Wiltshire, UK, to keep track of the days and months of the year.”

Stonehenge’s rocks are perfectly aligned to capture the solstices. (Astroskiandhike/CC BY-SA 4.0/ Wikimedia Commons)

Darville’s quest to find the real monument goal started in 2020 after a new study revealed that most of the sarsen stones – the rocks found at Stonehenge – came from the same career. They were also taken and installed at Stonehenge at the same time. Expert says this indicated they were serving a commune cause.

To figure out what it might be, Darvill looked to the monument’s layout for clues. The original outer circle of Stonehenge compound 30 large sarsen stones linked together by 30 stone crosspieces, or lintels. Darvill believes they represented 30 days of the month. The seeker further theorizes that the five sets of triliths – pairs of large vertical stones each with a horizontal stone at the top – which are in the circle of Sarsen, represent five more days. The archaeologist further affirms that the four so-called “station stones” outside the sarsen circle served as a reminder to add a jump day every four years.

Darvill thinks the five Stonehenge trilithons represent an extra five days. (TobyEditor/CC BY 4.0,/wikimedia.org)

“Thirty, 5 and 4 are interesting numbers in a calendar sense,” says Darvill. “These 30 studs around the main sarsen ring at Stonehenge would work very well as days of the month. Multiply that by 12, and you get 360, add another 5 from the central triliths, you get 365.”

Darvill, who published his findings in the journal Antiques March 2, 2022, unclear why the ancients decided to develop a solar calendar. He thinks they may have gotten the idea from the Mesopotamians and Egyptians, who also created solar calendars around this time. It is also possible that they embedded on the initiative by them selves.

Four ‘station stones’ outside Sarsen’s circle may have served as a reminder for leap years. (Dietrich Krieger/ CC BY-SA 3.0/ Wikimedia Commons)

As Darvill’s theory rings plausiblenot everyone is convinced. “It is certainly intriguingbut ultimately he fails to to convince“, explains Mike Parker Pearson, archaeologist at the University College of London in the United Kingdom. “Numbers don’t really add up: why should two amounts of a trilithon equal one amount of the circle of sarsen to represent a day?” There is a selective use of proof to try to match the numbers.”

Resources: Livescience.com, Newscientist.com, newatlas.com