Sources for Stonehenge

There is a vast amount of archaeological information about Stonehenge from the many investigations at the monument and numerous early antiquarian sources, as well as a wealth of published and unpublished resources.

Antler picks excavated from Stonehenge

Antler picks excavated from Stonehenge
© English Heritage, with permission from Salisbury Museum

Key Works

RJM Cleal et al, Stonehenge in Its Landscape: Twentieth-century Excavations (1995) is an invaluable reference work, and contains detailed information about all the 20th-century excavations at Stonehenge. Another key book is C Chippindale’s Stonehenge Complete (4th edn, 2012), which provides the best overview of the later history of Stonehenge. The Stonehenge WHS archaeological research framework is a major resource for understanding the wider landscape of Stonehenge and Avebury.

The following provide good overviews, as does the 2013 English Heritage guidebook:

  • Darvill, T, Stonehenge World Heritage Site: An Archaeological Research Framework (English Heritage and Bournemouth University, 2005)
  • Darvill, T, Stonehenge: Biography of a Landscape (Stroud, 2006)
  • Lawson, A, Chalkland: An Archaeology of Stonehenge and Its Region (Salisbury, 2007)
  • Parker Pearson, M, Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery (London, 2012)
  • Pitts, M, Hengeworld, revised edn (London, 2001)
  • Richards, J, Stonehenge: The Story So Far, revised edn (English Heritage, London, 2013)
  • Worthington, A, Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion (Loughborough, 2004)

Material Sources/Collections

Salisbury Museum holds key collections from 20th-century excavations at Stonehenge and in the nearby landscape. These include finds from Hawley’s excavations in the 1920s, from Atkinson, Piggott and Stone’s in the 1950s and 1960s, from Newall’s in 1950 and 1952, from the Vatchers in the late 1960s, and from Pitts in 1979–80. They are the repository for all the finds from the Stonehenge Environs Project undertaken in the late 1980s, and will eventually hold all the finds from the Stonehenge Riverside Project (2005–9), which are currently undergoing post-excavation analysis.

The museum’s new Wessex Gallery, which showcases archaeology and prehistory from the region, opened in July 2014.

Wiltshire Museum in Devizes holds some objects from Stonehenge and other nearby monuments, such as Woodhenge. Their collections largely comprise the antiquarian and early archaeological finds from the early Bronze Age barrows around Stonehenge.

The museum’s new prehistory galleries opened in October 2013, and their collections are searchable online.

These two museums are designated by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council as pre-eminent collections of national and international importance. Almost all the objects on display in the new Stonehenge visitor centre are borrowed from their collections. Both museums have art collections relating to Stonehenge and more modern objects such as postcards and souvenirs.

SEE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COLLECTIONS ON DISPLAY AT STONEHENGE

Watercolour of Stonehenge, painted some time before 1797, when one of the trilithons fell

Watercolour of Stonehenge, painted some time before 1797, when one of the trilithons fell
© English Heritage, with permission from Wiltshire Museum

Archives

There are many antiquarian papers and records of early work at Stonehenge. Both Salisbury  Museum and Wiltshire Museum have extensive archive and excavation records, and Wiltshire Museum in particular has an extensive library containing important antiquarian works.

 

Antiquarian Papers

Although John Aubrey’s collection of papers for Monumenta Britannica was collated and published in 1980-82, the original manuscripts and his personal letters and documents hold a wealth of additional information and are housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Also in the Bodleian are many of William Stukeley's papers and manuscripts, including his drawings of the monument and how he imagined Stonehenge was constructed.[2] There are various other Stukeley manuscripts in the British Library and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, some of which were published in volumes of the Surtees Society between 1882 and 1887.

 

Historic England Archive

The Historic England Archive contain various plans, documents, an extensive photographic archive (including the Atkinson collection of photographs) and archives relating to the 20th-century investigations and conservation works at Stonehenge.

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed online, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archives price list.

 

Archaeological Archives

The archive of archaeological investigations at Stonehenge is complex. After the publication of the Cleal et al volume (Stonehenge in its Landscape: Twentieth-century Excavations) by English Heritage in 1995, a project was undertaken to pull together as much excavated material as possible in one location. This is known as the Wessex Archaeology Stonehenge Archive and is held at Salisbury Museum.

The archive contains written material (primary, secondary, original and copied), drawings, photographs, and some finds. In particular, the extant primary records from the excavations by Professors Piggott and Atkinson and Dr Stone, together with copies of material on earlier excavations, many gathered by Professor Atkinson, form the core of the archive. The full guide to the archive produced in 2005 should be referred to for further details:

  • Wessex Archaeology, ‘Stonehenge 20th century excavations archive: an introduction and user’s guide’, unpublished report for English Heritage, 2005.

Records such as photographs and site plans remain in the English Heritage Archives, and Hawley’s original diaries are held at the Society of Antiquaries of London. Copies are lodged in the main archive in Salisbury.

Restoration and engineering work taking place in 1958

Restoration and engineering work taking place in 1958
© Historic England Archive

Visual Sources

There are many paintings, engravings and sketches of Stonehenge. Extensive collections are held by the Salisbury Museum and the Wiltshire Museum. Important images are also held by the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Collection, and in the manuscript collections of the British Library and Bodleian Library.

The following is a selective list of the key visual sources that enable us to see changes at Stonehenge over time and changing attitudes to the monument.

  • 14th-century manuscript image of Merlin moving the sarsens into place with people looking on – British Library Egerton MS 3028, fol 140v (see History of Stonehenge)
  • 14th-century manuscript image of a squared-up looking Stonehenge in a history of the world – Corpus Christi College MS 194, fol 57
  • 1440–41 drawing of Stonehenge from Scala Mundi, or Chronicle of the World – Bibliothèque Municipale de Douai MS 803 Anglaid, fol 55
  • 1573–5 watercolour by Lucas de Heere, from Corte Beschryvinge (first view drawn on site) – British Library Add MS 28330, fol 36
  • 1575 engraving by ‘R.F.’, depicts Stonehenge leaning with figures – British Library, Department of Maps, pressmark 5785(2)
  • 1588 watercolour by William Smith, in the de Heere tradition, from The Particular Description of England – British Library Sloane MS 2596
  • 1612 map of Wiltshire by John Speed, showing Stonehenge in the corner
  • 1655 plan of Stonehenge by Inigo Jones, showing regular and squared-off Stonehenge, from The Most Notable Antiquary of Great Britain vulgarly called Stone-Henge on Salisbury Plain Restored – Bodleian Library C.2.25 Art. Seld, plate between pp 60 and 61
  • 1666 plan of Stonehenge by John Aubrey, from Monumenta Britannica, Bodleian Library MSS Top. gen. c.24–5
  • Late 17th-century engraving by David Loggan showing a prospect of Stonehenge from the west and south – copies in Salisbury Museum and in the Government Art Collection
  • 1716 watercolour of Stonehenge, with visitors arriving on donkeys and also accurate view of the stones by Edmund Prideaux – Collection Prideaux-Brune, photos in the Historic England Archives 
  • 1722–40 various drawings of Stonehenge and environs by William Stukeley, Bodleian Library
  • 1747 plan of Stonehenge by John Wood, published in Choir Gaure, vulgarly called Stonehenge
  • Late 18th-century engraving showing visitors hammering off a part of a fallen stone – Salisbury Museum
  • 1797 engraving showing a newly fallen trilithon – Salisbury Wiltshire Museum
  • 1810–12 theoretical reconstructions by Colt Hoare, published in Ancient Wiltshire
  • 1815 coloured aquatint of a ‘Grand Conventional Festival of the Britons at Stonehenge’, from S Rush Meyrick and C Hamilton Smith, The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Isles
  • 1825–8 watercolour by JMW Turner – Salisbury Museum
  • 1835 watercolour by John Constable – Victoria and Albert Museum
  • 1853 calotype photograph by R Sedgfield – Royal Collection (the first photograph of Stonehenge).

Published Secondary Sources

Abbott, M and Anderson-Whymark, H, Stonehenge Laser Scan: Archaeological Analysis, English Heritage Research Department Report 32-2012 (Swindon, 2012) [accessed 10 Jan 2017]

Adamson, T, ‘Stonehenge: the stone mason and his craft’, Antiquity 76 (2002), 41–2 [subscription required; accessed 3 March 2015]

Allen, M, ‘Before Stonehenge’, in Stonehenge in Its Landscape, ed RMJ Cleal, KE Walker and R Montague, English Heritage Archaeological Report 10 (London, 1995), 41–62

Allen, M, ‘Environment and land-use: the economic development of the communities who built Stonehenge (an economy to support the stones)’, in Science and Stonehenge, ed B Cunliffe and C Renfrew, Proceedings of the British Academy 92 (Oxford, 1997), 115–44

Allen, M, Chan, B, Cleal, R, French, C, Marshall, P, Pollard, J, Pullen, R, Richards, C, Ruggles, C, Robinson, D, Rylatt, J, Thomas, J, Welham, K and Parker Pearson, M, ‘Stonehenge’s Avenue and “Bluestonehenge”’, Antiquity 90 (2016), 991–1008 [subscription required; accessed 10 Jan 2017]

Anon, ‘Stonehenge: human markings of ancient origin’, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 47 (1936), 530–31

Aronson, M and Parker Pearson, M, If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge (National Geographic, 2010)

Ashbee, P, ‘Stonehenge: its possible non-completion, slighting and dilapidation’, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 91 (1998), 139–42

Atkinson, KB, ‘The recording of some prehistoric carvings at Stonehenge’, Photogrammetric Record 69:31 (1968), 24–31

Atkinson, RJC, ‘The date of Stonehenge’, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 18 (1953), 236–7

Atkinson, RJC, Stonehenge (London, 1956)

Atkinson, RJC, ‘Moonshine on Stonehenge’, Antiquity 40 (1966), 212–16 [subscription required; accessed 27 Nov 2013]

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Atkinson, RJC, ‘Some new measurements on Stonehenge’, Nature 275 (1978), 50–52 [subscription required; accessed 27 Nov 2013]

Atkinson, RJC, Stonehenge, 2nd edn (Harmondsworth, 1979)

Atkinson, RJC, ‘Aspects of the archaeoastronomy of Stonehenge’, in Archaeoastronomy in the Old World, ed DC Heggie (Cambridge, 1982), pp 107–16

Atkinson, RJC, Stonehenge and Neighbouring Monuments, 2nd edn (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1995)

Atkinson, RJC, Piggott, S and Stone, JFS, ‘The excavation of two additional holes at Stonehenge, 1950, and the evidence for the date of the monument’, Antiquaries Journal 32 (1952), 14–20 [subscription required; accessed 27 Nov 2013]

Aubrey, J, Monumenta Britannica, or, A Miscellany of British Antiquities, Parts I and II, ed J Fowles (Sherborne, 1980–82; originally compiled 1665–93)

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Unpublished Work

Coady, I, ‘What is the nature and extent of early Holocene activity within the Stonehenge environs?’ Undergraduate thesis, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University (2004)

Darvill, T, ‘Stonehenge Conservation and Management Programme: a summary of archaeological assessments and field evaluations undertaken 1990–1996’, Bournemouth: Timothy Darvill Archaeological Consultants for English Heritage and the National Trust (1997)

Giavarini, VJ and James, PW, ‘Lichen survey of Stonehenge, Amesbury, Wiltshire’ (1994)

Parker Pearson, M, Pollard, J, Tilley, C, Thomas, J, Richards, C, Welham, K, Albarella, U, Allen, M, Cleal, R, Knusel, C, Lewis, H, Linford, N, Payne, A, Scaife, R and Schmidt, A, ‘Stonehenge Riverside Project 2004’ (2005)

Parker Pearson, M, Pollard, J, Tilley, C, Thomas, J, Richards, C and Welham, K, ‘The Stonehenge Riverside Project, interim report 2005’ (2006)

Parker Pearson, M, Pollard, J, Richards, C, Thomas, J, Tilley, C and Welham, K, ‘The Stonehenge Riverside Project, summary interim report on the 2006 season’ (2007)

Parker Pearson, M, Pollard, J, Richards, C, Thomas, J, Tilley, C and Welham, K, ‘Stonehenge Riverside Project 2007 (interim report)' (2008)

Parker Pearson, M, Allen, M, Bayer, O, Casswell, C, Chan, B, French, C, Garwood, P, Nunn, B, Pitts, M, Pollard, J, Pullen, B, Richards, C, Richards, J, Robinson, D, Rylatt, J, Shaw, D, Teather, A and Thomas, J, ‘Stonehenge Riverside Project (2008): interim report’ (2008)

Parker Pearson, M, Pollard, J, Thomas, J, Welham, K, Rylatt, J, Casswell, C, Chan, B, Dover, M and Nunn, M, ‘Excavations at the riverside end of Stonehenge Avenue, Stonehenge Riverside Project 2009 (incorporating 2008)’ (2009)

Parker Pearson, M and Cox Willis, C, ‘Burials and builders of Stonehenge: social identities in late Neolithic and Chalcolithic Britain’, paper presented at third Megalithic Studies Group Meeting May 2010 (2010)

 

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