The study – which involved vast new excavations at the site, sophisticated modern forensic analysis, and a phone call to Jacob Baynes, who served as head of the county from 1981 to 1985 – concluded that the vast stone monument was constructed in May of 1983, over a period of some two or three months. The revised date is significantly later than previous estimates, which held that the structure dated back to roughly 3000BC.
“This will totally change the way we look at Stonehenge,” enthused Professor Seema Patel, the study’s co-director. “For example, we’d long assumed that it would’ve required thousands of labourers and decades or even centuries of work to transport the central bluestones here from Wales on a system of primitive wooden rollers. But apparently they just set aside an afternoon and brought them down in some trucks.”
The findings also reopen the disputed question of what the construction’s original purpose might have been.
“The dominant theory prior to this breakthrough was that Stonehenge fulfilled a religious function in Neolithic society, possibly acting as a portal through which Stone Age tribes would have attempted to communicate with their ancestors on the summer and winter solstices,” explained the study’s other supervisor, Dr Julian Jackson. “But obviously, as we now know this was all actually built at roundabout the time of the Falklands War, we’re revising that a bit.”
“One new theory is that might have been put here as a tourist attraction,” he added.