A newly published book suggests that experts may be looking at Stonehenge the wrong way. Author Julian Spalding thinks we should stop looking down and instead look up – up to where a wooden platform was placed on the flat stones supported by the vertical ones so hundreds could stand high above the ground to perform religious ceremonies and worship. The book is sure to stimulate thoughts and controversy. Isn’t that what books are for?
Julian Spalding is an art critic and former director of Glasgow Museums and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the most visited museum outside London. In “Realisation – from Seeing to Understanding : The Origins of Art,” Spalding proposes that ancient civilizations, like the one that built Stonehenge, practiced their religions on platforms raised off the ground and positioned to match the movements of the sun and stars.
In early times, no spiritual ceremonies would have been performed on the ground. The Pharaoh of Egypt and the Emperor of China were always carried – as the Pope used to be. The feet of holy people were not allowed to touch the ground. We’ve been looking at Stonehenge from a modern, earth-bound perspective. All the great raised altars of the past suggest that the people who built Stonehenge would never have performed celestial ceremonies on the lowly earth. That would have been unimaginably insulting to the immortal beings, for it would have brought them down from heaven to bite the dust and tread in the dung.
Did the builders of Stonehenge top it off with a wooden platform that hundreds climbed ramps or stairs to walk around on in a circular direction, following the constellations? Spalding is not an archeologist – he’s an art historian – and his book looks at ancient human understandings of the world to explain works of art and monuments. Stonehenge experts are skeptical, especially since Spalding offers no solid evidence to support his platform proposal.
Since the experts don’t have solid evidence of the original purpose and usage of Stonehenge either, looking at it from a new angle, in Spalding’s case – up to a raised platform, is worth considering.