For those of you with a real interest in Stonehenge and its always-fascinating landscape, I would urge you to visit the truly excellent website run by my friend Tim Daw. As just one example of the many engaging things that Tim has to say on the subject of Stonehenge, here is a page that tells the story (with photographs) of how he recently drove to inspect an ongoing excavation taking place at the site where the proposed Stonehenge tunnel will appear, to the west of the monument.
As you’ll quickly discover for yourself if you read the relevant page on Tim’s site, he encountered a gentleman wearing a Wessex Archaeology jacket, who Tim says told him that he had to record everyone that drove up and down the byway they were on as it was “sensitive” excavating the World Heritage Site. I found this strange, because I excavated within the same World Heritage Site on numerous occasions when I worked for Wessex Archaeology from January 2000 to August 2003, while I also excavated there a few times afterwards as well, but I was never required to record the presence of anyone else while I was working on this landscape.
And now I learn of another development, illustrated in large part by the picture at the top of this post, but it will make matters simpler if I quote directly from the relevant post on Tim’s Facebook page: “#Stonehenge tunnel and the winter #Solstice. Andy Rhind-Tutt (the former mayor of Amesbury and someone who has long taken a keen interest in Stonehenge and its landscape) makes the very valid point that if the western portal to the tunnel is built where Wessex Archaeology are digging at the moment the lights from the tunnel entrance and approach road will be directly in line with the winter solstice sunset, the most important view at Stonehenge. No more last flash as the sun goes down, just an orange glow….The site of the dig is marked with an orange triangle, and connects to the approach road marked with a thick orange line. The solstitial alignment is the thin line through the monument.”
In other news, we were informed yesterday of the discovery of a dog’s tooth at the excavation at Blick Mead, an object found by another friend of mine, coincidentally. Today’s newspapers had a great deal to say about this ancient tooth, as it appears to have belonged to a dog resembling a modern Alsatian that made its way to Stonehenge and to Blick Mead – probably with a human owner – from York, 250 miles to the north, around 7,000 years ago.
All this material about a big dog with a presence at a prehistoric site linked with the notion of healing immediately put me in mind of Apollo Cunomaglus, or the Great Hound Lord, a deity recorded in an inscription at Nettleton Shrub in Wiltshire, a place also close to water that was apparently a healing sanctuary or the centre of a healing cult, as some suppose Stonehenge itself to have been.
It also immediately put me in mind of a discovery made by my daughter Tanith 5 or 6 years ago, when I was poring over some strange written material dating back decades that I’d been sent in relation to the Heel Stone at Stonehenge.
In brief, she discerned the outline of a gigantic hound on the Heel Stone (see above) and I realise that, as a result of a laser scan survey conducted a few years back at Stonehenge, this likeness was never carved. Nonetheless, if I and countless others can now see this strange creature, then it seems to me inevitable that our ancestors would have discerned it as well, while I’m as certain as I can possibly be that this precise animal is recorded in some great detail in a mediaeval ‘account’ of Stonehenge.
I could continue at enormous length about this, but it will have to wait for another time. For now, it’s natural that I feel a warm, rosy glow when I think of the recent discovery at Blick Mead, which I feel was a virtual inevitability given the association of dogs at Stonehenge, but it looks as if this rosy glow is going to be eclipsed by the illumination from the western portal of the ‘Stonehenge Tunnel’, if as now seems sure, this construction is going ahead.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth”
Marcus Aurelius (allegedly).