Monday, 3 December 2012

The Stonehenge Enigma - Prologue and Introduction

By Robert John Langdon

In line with the Open Access practice of placing non-fiction e-books FREE OF CHARGE on the internet,   I can happily announce that the new second edition of my book The Stonehenge Enigma will be launched onto this format by Christmas 2012.

The Stonehenge Enigma - First Edition

The e-book will not contain any maps or pictures, so I have decided that I will publish each chapter in full on this website over the next eighteen months with pictures - ending in June 2014.  So if you wish to read it in its entirety and can't wait.... buy the book or wait for Christmas day to download.  If you are not in a hurry, here is the Prologue and Introduction.  The first chapter will be published here on 1st Jan 2013 and each subsequent chapter - thereafter on the 1st of the month... happy reading.

Ancient Stonehenge

I love prehistory; I think it should be called pre-mystery. In my mind, it’s the greatest ever ‘who done it’. Agatha Christie or even Dan Brown would have been proud of leaving so many tantalising clues and artefacts about what happened so long ago in mankind’s ancient past.

So who am I then? Holmes, Poirot or Indiana Jones?

Well hopefully a combination of all three as I love to solve puzzles, and this book answers the most captivating of all questions – who built Stonehenge and why?  Just think of the clues on offer: strange stone monuments; relics of a bygone age; scientific evidence that seems to contradict each part of the puzzle as it’s discovered and an overwhelming realisation that this is not a game - this is reality!

I want to solve the mysteries from the dawn of our civilisation. If that fails to excite you to the bone, I guess nothing in history ever will.

To understand our ancestry, you must be able to detach your mind from the 21st century. You need to picture the land that archaeologists call the ‘stone age period’ - the problem is that your mind has already created a mental picture of either hairy fur covered men dragging their women into the cave for fun or Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble going for a drive in their stone-mobile. Of course, neither of these images is correct or helpful.

As you read this book you will journey with me back in history. You will need to remember that for a considerable time, the people you will read about, may have only possessed wood and flint as tools yet they still had the foresight, capability, tenacity and organisational skills to build monuments that would last 10,000 years. I really don’t think even our best known recently built structures – the O2 Millennium Dome, Wembley Stadium, Canary Wharf Tower - will survive for one tenth of that time period. I would strongly argue that we must give our ancestors the respect they deserve and be proud that our forefathers created such a great civilisation.

Stonehenge - even today the water level is high
Stonehenge - even today the water level is high

The story starts with a car journey, driving home from a family holiday in the summer of 2009. I had previously studied Archaeology at the Museum of London in the early 1990s. During my course the standard format of materials was poorly photocopied archaeological texts and illustrations - the use of an available overhead projector was far too modern for this type of dusty establishment. The illustrations provided showed that mankind originally moved from Africa to the Middle East and then finally, onwards to Northern Europe and eventually Britain. This was the sacred proven pathway of our civilisation, and if anyone dared to write an essay even hinting at an alternative suggestion, they were branded a heretic and would be marked down accordingly – as you may begin to imagine, I fell into this category.

I have always found this ‘traditional’ model of our civilisation’s pathway difficult to accept or understand. In my mind, civilisations are incredibly old and diverse and need many tens of thousands of years to develop the characteristics we see around the world today - therefore to suggest that the first farmers were migrants from Africa who travelled to the Middle East and who then transferred their knowledge onto Europe over only a few thousand years, seems totally unbelievable, naive and somewhat simplistic because in my view, that’s not how civilisations develop. I also found it surprising that the literature and teaching provided, failed to include any references to the even more diverse civilisations of the Far East – so, I guess, according to traditional theories provided, the Chinese must have never discovered farming and therefore they must still be living in caves today?
Traditionalist view of Stone-age man
Traditionalist view of Stone-age man

Nonetheless, it is true to say that the antiquated lesson structures and information to which I was exposed did give me an insight into how Archaeology itself has evolved – via a group of amateur enthusiasts, whose dated theories somehow still remain prominent today. Many of these old academics have little to no engineering or practical skills, let alone the empathy to understand the true nature of hunter-gatherers or the issues surrounding self sufficiency in a hostile environment (thinking a little more like Ray Mears would have helped them considerably).

I am often amused by watching archaeologists spending hours on the most boring, labour intensive work such as drawing an excavation plot on an A3 board with strings as guides. On a few occasions, I've approached the poor student conscript allocated this god forsaken task and mentioned the marvellous new invention called a digital camera – which not only takes high resolution shots, but if used to take photographs from different angles and heights, they can then be turned into a 3D map on a PC. The poor students usually look at me as if I’m mad to suggest such a device and some well indoctrinated ones have suggested that “cameras can miss things” – really!

Archaeology - the science of outdated methods?
Archaeology - the science of outdated methods?

This is a clear indication of how the whole archaeological process has developed - more as a ‘club’ rather than a progressive scientific subject. Hence the quiet distain showed to the utterly engaging TV series Time Team in which a site is excavated in 3 days. The archaeological establishment sees this as ‘popularist’ and not ‘true archaeology’ which, in their view, should take years and eventually reach the same old, tired but established conclusions that are automatically accepted as being correct - and certainly wouldn't allow a theory that would take them out of their academic comfort zone.

There are many examples of this - archaeological political correctness - even within the Time Team television programme. When they find something unusual or not easily identifiable, the word ‘religious’ or ‘ceremonial’ is suddenly produced as an obvious explanation, rather than a more truthful admission of, ‘Tony, ain’t got a clue mate!’

"if you don't know..... make something up!"
"if you don't know..... make something up!"

This is what I call ‘archaeological self regulation’. It’s a way of guaranteeing your future career as an archaeologist.

As will be revealed later in the book, often when archaeologists are given scientific evidence from carbon dating that contradicts the ‘traditionally’ held view, it’s dismissed as an ‘anomaly’ - this is the usual response when scientific evidence conflicts with the archaeological accepted belief system.

This ‘strange’ approach to the science of archaeology can also be seen when sites are dated. A majority of sites are dated by broken pottery or flint finds discovered within the site. This tenuous link is based on a premise that ALL pottery and flints can be dated by its design or structure. In some sites, it’s absolutely true to say that these type of finds can be a good source of evidence if it is found ‘in situ’ with other items such as coins or other carbon dated material.

The science of pottery design.... see ebay for easy to make fakes!
The science of pottery design.... see ebay for easy to make fakes!

However, to rely on this as a form of evidence when pieces are found on the surface is problematical, as ALL it shows is that this type of pot was used on this site – AT SOME POINT after this type of pot was made – not necessarily at the SAME TIME.

For example, if an archaeologist in the future finds the ruined remains of St. Paul’s Cathedral (and imagine that all written records for the site were lost) he or she would attempt to date the site by the artefacts found on site. Say, for instance, a Coca-Cola can crammed into the base of a remaining wall was discovered – using current accepted practice, the archaeologist would conclude that, because the can was found ‘in situ’, the construction date of St. Paul’s would be approximately 1950 to 2000 – the practice simply doesn't work.

Even a child would realise that dating an item found at a site, doesn't automatically mean that the site shares the same date. Sometimes, complete sites are dated just by fragments of pottery without any other evidence, other than a ‘gut feel’ or ‘tradition’. This can readily be seen by the number of ‘iron age’ encampments found on OS maps.  Most of these sites are on hills and have ditches surrounding them; archaeologists automatically classify these monuments as ‘iron age’ as the perception is that they are fortifications, built at a time of extreme violence – the iron age.  There is not one piece of true evidence to support this claim, yet we have thousands of monuments incorrectly classified as ‘iron age’ all over Britain.  This type of unsupported evidence would simply not be deemed acceptable by any other ‘science’ (a part from Geology - and we’ll talk about that later).

Frustratingly, however, it is accepted practice in archaeology. So the next time you ask an archaeologist “what’s that” and they mention either the ‘religious or ceremonial’ word, stamp really hard on their foot!

I witnessed at first-hand, this kind of blanket prejudice when I submitted my final essay during my archaeology course in the 1990s. The essay was about Stonehenge and highlighted the conflicting evidence throughout the site. This particularly applied to the car park post holes that had been ignored by archaeologists when discovered in the 1960’s and in so doing, they missed how this find could have helped to establish the true dating of Stonehenge instead of rely on the ‘loose’ pottery and antler evidence that’s currently taken as the absolute truth.

I will never forget the comments my lecturer wrote on my marking sheet, which seem even more poignant today as I write this prologue: “Would make the basis of a good book, but has no credibility for serious archaeology today”. I suppose I should have been happy to have received a pass mark, even if it was only just!
Anyway, back to the plot. I was driving to London via the A303 which takes me passed Stonehenge, when suddenly, day turned to night and a cold eerie storm ripped through Salisbury Plain. I watched in the slow traffic as the poor tourists, in their summer clothes, ran as best they could for shelter while the traffic creped to a halt. At that point, my mind started to drift, and I looked around at the grassy fields as they started to become waterlogged.

I was driving past a point called ‘Stonehenge Bottom’, a deep ravine adjacent to Stonehenge. The hills were now feeding water down to the lowest point of the valley, and water was, very quickly, becoming very deep as it reverted back to the river it once had been. “You idiot!” I said out loud to no-one in particular.
It was a phrase I had started to use a lot in everyday life, as I had become a great admirer of Hugh Lawrie’s ‘House’ – I could identify with the same stubborn, rebellious and analytical qualities of the TV personality. (If you haven’t managed to catch any of these enthralling programmes, I’d highly recommend them).

If you're an academic.... this will hurt!!
If you're an academic.... this will hurt!!
The reason for my outburst was that I had driven and walked past this same spot more times than I care to remember but I had never realised that this was a huge clue to the ‘post hole puzzle’ I had considered so many years before, in my essay.

I got off the road and returned to Stonehenge. As I entered the car park, I was guided to the auxiliary car parking spaces on the grass behind the tarmac section. There was some chaos, as attendants were busy trying to fence off a large central section of the grassy car park as it had started flooding. Most drivers found this naturally quite annoying, but I had such a huge smile on my face that I'm sure the attendants must have thought I was insane.

You see, I had been told, as are all archaeologists that have studied the site, that the riverbed, where the car park lay was pre-ice age (at least 400,000 years ago if not more) so consequently, it’s always been ignored by archaeologists.

But….what if this was wrong? 

Only if this happens will archaeologists consider the possibility, that they are wrong.

As I stood in the rain watching the river return to Stonehenge, I asked myself ‘why is the car park, still flooding?’ – If the experts were right, despite this extraordinarily heavy rainfall, should not be flooding as the ‘dry river valley’ (in which the car park was situated) had supposedly, dried up hundreds of thousands of years ago, only a significant raising of the water table would cause it to flood now – not this relatively small level of rainfall I was witnessing. Yet the evidence I saw with my own eyes told me otherwise. I knew I had to go back and look at the evidence from the start, and this time, I would question everything, not assume that so called ‘accepted’ theories were correct and would literally leave no stone unturned.

If the experts were wrong, this small piece of the jigsaw would suddenly reveal not only the darkest secrets of Stonehenge, but the true date of the great civilisation that had created the stone monuments of Britain.

Stonehenge on sea
Julian Richard's called it Stonehenge-on-sea.....  Read the book Julian, its groundwater not sea water!

This book has been written to explain and prove a hypothesis that I have been working on over the last 30 years. In publishing this work I understand that it represents a fundamental change to not only British history, but to the history or the world. Consequently, I have not undertaken this lightly, but there are moments in the evolution of any science – and yes, archaeology is a science - when a new theory will challenge the fundamental beliefs of that science’s existing structure and that is the objective of this book.

These progressive challenges should in no way be viewed as criticism of the current theories, but a logical succession, creating a more coherent set of beliefs that moves the science forwards and helps everyone involved to develop a greater understanding of the subject.

It allows experts to re-examine the subject matter in a new light and can extract the truth from the myth - which has sometimes been responsible for creating false realities.

In my view, Archaeology (and in some respects Geology) has not been challenged enough over the years especially to the same extent as we have seen in other better funded sciences such as Physics or Biology. If this unchallenged acceptance was extended to these and other sciences, we would probably still be living in a world without Quantum Mechanics or Darwin’s theory of evolution.

What you will see unfolding in this book is a newer form of archaeology, which I refer to as ‘Landscape Dating’. It allows us to date sites, not only from the findings on the site but critically, from their location in the prehistoric landscape. This science will bring a new interpretation and understanding of the structural complexities and the philosophies of our ancestors.

The Mesolithic Landscape after the ice melted
The Mesolithic Landscape after the ice melted

I believe that through ‘Landscape Dating’ and through the evidence presented in this book, history will no longer paint a tainted portrait of fur- covered hairy men, running half naked, chasing deer and mammoths over Salisbury plain. This image will be replaced by the vision of an idyllic landscape of water and tree lined islands as we currently see in certain locations in Russia and Northern Canada, within which an intelligent and sophisticated civilisation existed - a society with advanced engineering skills, living a pleasant serene Mediterranean sailing existence, in perfect harmony with their fellow man and nature.

Furthermore, this unique civilisation went on to travel the world trading, teaching and inhabiting with the local populations ultimately sharing their engineering and philosophical knowledge with the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians, amongst others

I consider myself a prehistorian and philosopher with a flair for ‘Landscape Dating’. For I must confess that I was never one for getting down and dirty or sifting through thousands of fragments trying to find a decent piece of pottery with which to identify or date a site. Although this form of ‘treasure hunting’ does give its participants the thrill of discovery, but for me, the larger picture of trading, politics and alliances made these discoveries interesting.

Traditional View of Stonehenge construction - sadly for them the monument was surround by forest and water - so you need a boat!
Traditional View of Stonehenge construction - sadly for them the monument was surround by forest and water - so you need a boat!

History of any site, can best be seen within the landscape and at the location of the magnificent monuments. When you see henges or stone circles on the edge of cliffs or peninsulas, the power and awe of these ancient monuments is absolutely breathtaking. So when the final pieces of this ancient mystery eventually fell together I felt I had no option but to place my life on hold and write this book.

But in the process of collating my findings and thoughts, the overriding evidence became so massive that our single book became a complete trilogy that eventually traced the roots of the Stonehenge builders.
As I have examined these ancient monuments in depth, I have considered them from the perspective of the engineer and social philosopher within me rather than as an archaeologist and that attitude and style is represented in the context this book. I have tried to lay out my hypothesis in a jargon free, logical and sensible way with evidence that I hope you will consider to be of sufficient proof to enable you to reconsider what you may currently believe is accepted history.  In some instances, I will in turn accepted theories on their head, as the evidence can be interpreted in a completely different way to the current accepted theories.
Other Archaeology books I have read in the past have frustrated and confused me. They either ramble on about the author’s friends and lunches they have had while researching the book or focus on irrelevant issues. I will do neither in this book – I will simply try to present ‘the facts’ and my views based on these facts in ‘layman’s terms’ and an informative, interesting manner. It’s only by engaging in the evidence that future debates can be progressed and by so doing, our understanding enhanced.

More realistic view of the Stonehenge landscape in the Meso and Neolithic Periods
More realistic view of the Stonehenge landscape in the Meso and Neolithic Periods

What we must bear in mind is that the evidence is ‘absolute’ but the interpretation of this evidence is open to scrutiny and debate.  Therefore, to assist clarity, I have laid out my hypothesis (in full) in a clear and concisely manner - this is what the next chapter is dedicated too.  This will allow you to understand what I am trying to prove.

I will then go through the evidence to date, based on the four major sites that surround and including Stonehenge – Woodhenge (Durrington Walls, Avebury and Old Sarum.  This will allow you the reader to make your own mind up on what is the truth and what is not possible.

I have always admired writers and during my recent university courses presenters who can take complex subjects and turn them into simple analogies, which allow anyone to understand the concepts without reverting to jargon or technical references.  If you have studied Quantum Mechanics and philosophy as I have, you quickly realise which lecturers really do understand there subject and who are just treading water.
Indeed, one of my favourite film scenes is from ‘Philadelphia’ when Denzel Washington turns to Tom Hanks, who is in the process of explaining a complex legal problem and asks him to “tell it to me as if I was a six year old”. A sure way of saying, give it to me straight and simple! Well, I hope this book doesn't quite talk to you as if you’re a six year old, but I will explain some of the complexities and mysteries of Archaeology in a down to earth, clear and precise manner, using similar analogies when necessary.

Einstein will point the way to the truth!
Once was have exhausted the topic or subject manner, Einstein will appear to conclude the debate and clarify what I term as ‘proof of my hypotheses’.  They will be forty or so proofs which are the basis of the evidence in the formulation of this book, a complete list will be shown in Appendix A with reference to the pages the evidence is gathered.  This enables me to claim that my book is not just a handful of ‘ideas’ like most hypothesis, but a collection of evidence that proves the hypothesis beyond doubt – even if I do get one or two wrong, which is quite possible as we are flying at the edge of understanding and it is quite possible that we will interpret evidence incorrectly due to either bad reporting or fieldwork, which is beyond my control.

A large part of this book is my landscape surveys of Mesolithic and Neolithic Sites in the Stonehenge area. This and other ‘case studies’ are central to the book as I see them as the ‘best evidence’ for my hypothesis. Too many good ideas look feasible on paper but when they are studied in detail they are shown to be ‘just ideas’ without true substance or methodology.

I could have chosen any area in Britain to prove my theory, but Stonehenge provided me with more archaeological evidence than any other as it has been the centre of prehistoric interest since the Roman invasion 2,000 years ago. It also has the detailed analysis of any site in Britain as money has in this location has been well spent unlike most other sites - and that is still not enough.

Stonehenge Landscape showing the raised groundwater levels
Stonehenge Landscape showing the raised groundwater levels

What we have found in Stonehenge is a direct connection to at least three other main sites in the same area, which makes it the centre or hub of Prehistoric Britain a little like London today. Later books will explain in detail why this we an ancient centre of activity, but the book contains sufficient information to prove that Stonehenge is not what it seems and it was built at a time unknown to present archaeologists.

It has always been recognised that post-glacial landscape is still a mystery to both geologists and archaeologist alike, as quoted in the book ‘Stonehenge in the Landscape’ by Michael Allen “In short, we are dealing with a period from the upper Palaeolithic to the Late Neolithic covering nearly five millennia for which, realistically, we know little from the environment except by assumption and inference from the adjacent area way from the chalk”

To give you a flavour of how the other books of this trilogy will unfold, the final chapter unites the evidence of the former chapters creating an unique insight and vision into what kind of great civilisation must have existed in prehistoric times that could organise and build such colossal ancient monuments that have lasted over ten thousand years. For archaeologists have always sadly failed to understand the type of culture that was required to socially organise and manage large numbers to create these types of structures.
This ‘lost civilisation’ has enormous consequences for the history of not only Britain but also Europe and the World. We will show you that this civilisation clearly uses (for its time) engineering skills and mathematics way beyond what archaeologists and historians to date given credited for their abilities.

Enjoy the book and I hope it will encourage you to go out and re-explore these ancient sites armed with a new vision and knowledge of how our landscape really used to look some 10,000 years ago. For each unexplored prehistoric site still holds great secrets of our ‘lost civilisation’ past just waiting to be rediscovered. Those who dare to venture forth ‘with an open mind’ could be actively participating in solving the disentanglement of the greatest historical mystery of all time


(by Robert John Langdon)


  1. Good to see you back to blobbing, Robert! But why did you change your web site design? Can't get it to align properly in my browser! Some page elements overlap or are out of view!


    1. Hi Kostas

      Just trying to keep up with technology!!

      If you go to home on the purple bar you can choose various formats - hopefully one will be suitable for your browser.


    2. Sorry not Home but the arrow next to "Sidebar"!!