The post that follows is admittedly a bit of a mess, so I feel I need to explain why this should be in advance of anyone troubling themselves to read it. To begin with, I’ve often referred to all the unpublished material on Stonehenge in my archives, so by way of demonstrating that this material isn’t a figment of my fevered imagination, I need to resume publishing it, as I did when my former site Eternal Idol was fully functional.
With this particular post, I have far more questions than answers, so if anyone ‘out there’ can enlighten me about any aspect of what follows, then I would be extremely grateful. It may well be that even if all my questions are answered, then we’ll be none the wiser at the end of the process, but unless I commit it all to print, then we’ll never find out, while I feel the whole process will be facilitated if I simply think out loud rather than try to present a coherent case for something that exists at best as a series of nebulous connections.
So, about seven or eight years ago, I found myself reading about jinn for reasons that would be too time-consuming to repeat here. I’d been interested in these entities for decades, but this time around, I was intrigued to learn that there were apparently several varieties of jinn and that one was believed by scholars to be the spirits of distant ancestors, or something very similar. Despite my best efforts, I’ve been unable to remember where I read this, nor have I been able to find it since, so there’s a possibility that my memory might be at fault, but I don’t think so. It made an impression on me because of what was at the time the growing interest in the notion of our ancestors being worshipped at Stonehenge, but that’s the best I can manage, I’m afraid.
Back to the present, and I noticed yesterday that a vast monolith has been discovered in a quarry at Baalbek, in Lebanon. I couldn’t find much information on this huge stone, but I was more than content to read once more about the temple complex and the other notable stone in the quarry, the Stone of the Pregnant Woman. When I refreshed my memory about the sheer size and weight of this block, it was inevitable that Stonehenge came once more to mind on account of the enduring mystery of how such huge stones were moved, but I was also intrigued to learn of a theory that this particular stone at Baalbek took its name from legends that pregnant jinn were assigned the task of cutting and moving it.
The source of these legends appears to be in a book entitled Folk-lore of the Holy Land by James Edward Hanauer, but that’s as far as I’ve been able to proceed. When I’d previously read about jinn, I’d learned that, among their other attributes, their name may mean ‘The Unseen or Hidden Ones”, that they sometimes cooperated with magicians to lift items into the air, that they sometimes appeared as tall men dressed in white and that they mimicked the voices of the dead, all of which naturally reminded me of certain aspects of Stonehenge.
The much-reviled Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote of the stones of Stonehenge that “Giants of old did carry them from the furthest ends of Africa…” and I remember that when Eternal Idol was online, someone perspicaciously suggested that Egypt, with its giant statues and other monuments, would qualify as “the furthest ends of Africa”. Would Lebanon reasonably qualify as “the furthest ends of Africa?” Given its geographical position in the eastern Mediterranean, I think it would, at least from the perspective of a 12th century man like Geoffrey of Monmouth, while it is at least a pleasing coincidence that Baalbek is home to the largest quarried blocks on Earth.
We know that the Romans built a temple on top of some of these previously-placed outsize stones and we also know from Darvill and Wainwright’s 2008 excavation that the Romans had a marked interest in Stonehenge, perhaps even re-arranging some of the stones there to suit their own purposes. I don’t know what to make of all this, which is why I was careful to qualify this post at the start and why I’m doing nothing more than think out loud, but I can’t help but be intrigued by the story that jinn were responsible for shaping and perhaps moving huge blocks of stone at “the furthest ends of Africa” to make a temple, while it’s possible – if my memory serves me correctly – that at least one variety of jinn were formed of the spirits of distant ancestors.
The earliest known phase or function of Stonehenge, as far as I can gather, was as a cemetery, so the ancestors were in place from the very start and it would seem to me that the spirits of those same ancestors were thought to inhabit the place, although whether they were feared or revered, I can’t say. I don’t know if you’d strictly categorise Geoffrey’s giants as supernatural beings, but something keeps nagging at me about the presumed attributes of certain jinn and what we know of Stonehenge’s earliest days, as presented by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
That’s it, I’m afraid; I don’t have a theory of any kind to propose, because all I have is a series of disjointed observations about various supernatural entities with interesting attributes, with a common theme of “the furthest ends of Africa”, ancestors and the putting in place of monoliths to build temples. My passion has always lain in trying to explore the most obscure aspects of Stonehenge that it’s possible to imagine in the remote but not unthinkable expectation of finding something of real value, so if anyone has any further observations to make or information to add, I’ll be very pleased to read whatever’s put forward.