A couple of days back, I took a trip to the remains of an ancient British civilisation. From a distance it just looked like a bunch of rocks and a waste of my time. But the historic relevance became apparent as soon as I started to understand that the rocks weren’t there by accident. They had a purpose. They had a story. And that story was what captivated me.
Stonehenge, in South-West England, is practically in the middle of nowhere. The closest human contact to it is that of the army head-quarters (probably chosen as HQ due to the lack of people in and around them). I feel that its mystery and beauty is only added to by the distinct lack of residents around. The stones themselves are said to have been moved in place around 2000-3000 BCE. That makes them around 4000-5000 years old! Over the centuries the folk who come across Stonehenge have come up with lots of theories for what the stones could mean. Some people say that its a crematorium for the ancient Neolithic civilisation. Some said that it was the place where people were brought to be slaughtered as part of an ancient sacrificial ritual. Others believe that it was an ancient sun-dial and indeed on Winter and summer solstice, the arrangement of the stones allows the sun to rise and set over the centre of one particular stone.
I personally find it fascinating to consider just how advanced in the sciences these ancient civilisations were. To an extent, more civilised that we are today. Our physicists,chemists, biologists and medics have only just begun to understand the vast universe we inhabit. The people of the bygone era, it seems, were rather in-touch with the universe.
The word ‘henge’ actually comes from architectural roots. A henge was typically a wide circular dip with a raised bank around a monument or structure. And indeed, all around the stone arrangement is a beautifully intact henge. Hence the name: Stonehenge.
However, what interested me the most was the belief that some of the stones held magical healing properties. It is not unheard of people practising ‘healing’ and certainly the concept of certain stones eliciting or inhibiting bodily reactions and functions is an ancient concept. In the early 12th century, the idea of Stonehenge as a sanctuary was first proposed. The reasoning behind it rested in the believed magical healing properties of the blue stone, with which part of the structure we see today, was created. Indeed there is evidence that people of those times actually broke of parts of the bluestone to keep at home so that they may reap the benefits that the bluestone provided to health. It brought pilgrims from central Europe and its belief was so strong that people with various extraordinary ailments were said to travel in hope of curing their diseases and maladies. In fact the burial ground boasts quite spectacularly of many such people with obscure ailments of the times.
Of course, how true these theories are and whether bluestone really contains healing power has not yet been confirmed. But science works on the principle of suspicion and testing. It works of evidence and proof. Yet there are many things inside of our own body and many things in the wide universe which we still don’t know or understand. And perhaps dismissing these ancient theories might be a little arrogant of us.
History has a lot to tell us about ourselves, our bodies, our universe and most importantly about our ancestors.