Jul 15, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Mysteries of Stonehenge and Other Ancient Stone Circles: From UFOs to Strange Creatures

Some ancient structures are more well-known than others. There’s no doubt, however, that Stonehenge is very near the top of the list. I should stress that although we have a great deal of data on the legendary creation itself, much of the story is still very much shrouded in enigmas, folklore and myth. Stonehenge was, most archaeologists suggest, constructed roughly around 3,100 BC. In other words, around five thousand years ago. That’s not the full story, though: there is clear evidence that the area on which Stonehenge stands now – the English county of Wiltshire - was used by the people of an even earlier era, possibly even to as far back as 8,000 BC. As for when Stonehenge was first studied to a fairly significant degree, the English Heritage comes to the point: “The first known excavation at Stonehenge, in the center of the monument, was undertaken in the 1620s by the Duke of Buckingham, prompted by a visit by King James I. The king subsequently commissioned the architect Inigo Jones to conduct a survey and study of the monument. Jones argued that Stonehenge was built by the Romans.” Jones was way off course.

(Nick Redfern) Stonehenge, almost magical

Merrily Harpur, the author of Mystery Big Cats, has logged a fascinating account from a man named George Price, who had an undeniably bizarre experience on Salisbury Plain, England in September 2002, while then serving with the British Army. It was at the height of a military exercise, Harpur was told, and Price was a ‘commander in the turret of our tank, and we were advancing to contact our warriors’. Suddenly, Price’s attention was drawn to a ‘large, ape-like figure’ that ‘looked scared because of the noise from the engines and tanks were moving at speed all around." Although the beast was not in sight for long - it raced for the safety of ‘nearby prickly shrubs’ - an amazed Price could see that ‘its fur was similar to an orang-utan in colour...its height was impressive...[and] it seemed to run with its back low, i.e. bent over’.

Salisbury Plain is not just home to military manoeuvres, however. It is also home to one of the world’s most famous ancient stone circles: Stonehenge. While most students of the legendary structure conclude it had its beginnings somewhere around 3,100 BC, evidence of human activity in the area has been found suggesting a presence as far back as 8,000 BC. And a degree of that same presence is indicative of ritualistic activity, even at that incredibly early age. But, regardless of when, precisely, large-scale construction of Stonehenge actually began, what can be said with certainty is that it is comprised of a ditch, a bank, and what are known as the Aubrey holes - round pits in the chalk that form a huge circle. And then, of course, there are those massive stone blocks.

No less than eighty-two of Stonehenge’s so-called bluestones, some of which weigh up to four-tons, are believed to have been transported from the Preseli Mountains in southwest Wales to the Wiltshire site, a distance of 240-miles. Although, the actual number of stones is in dispute since, today, barely more than forty remain. Certainly, such a mammoth operation to move such huge stones would be no easy feat in the modern era, never mind thousands of years ago. And yet, somehow, this incredible and mystifying task was successfully achieved. Stonehenge’s thirty giant Sarsen stones, meanwhile, were brought from the Marlborough Downs, a distance of around twenty-five miles. This might sound like a much easier task than having to haul the bluestones all the way from Wales. Hardly. As noted, the Welsh stones are in the order of four-tons. Some of the Sarsen stones from the downs, however, weigh in at twenty-five-tons, the heaviest around fifty. And people wonder why so much mystery and intrigue surrounds the creation of Stonehenge?

(Nick Redfern) A legendary place

Now, let's take a look at a mysterious aircraft around Stonehenge. In March 1997, the UK Independent newspaper ran an article titled "Secret US spyplane crash may be kept under wraps." In part, it stated: "A top-secret United States spyplane which flies on the edge of space at five times the speed of sound crashed at the British experimental airbase at Boscombe Down, Hampshire, in September 1994, according to a report in a leading military aviation journal. The SAS [Special Air Service], the report said, was scrambled to throw a cordon round the wreckage, which was flown back to the US two days later. The hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft, called Astra or Aurora, is believed to have been developed in the 1980s as a secret US government 'black programme.'" The account of the crash at Boscombe Down is made all the more intriguing by a story that was published in the UK's Salisbury Times newspaper on August 23, 1994 - just about a month before all hell broke loose at Boscombe Down. The location: the aforementioned A303 road. Interestingly, the A303 road goes by Stonehenge. The article states:

"A green flying saucer hovered beside the A303 road at Deptford last week - according to a lorry driver who rushed to Salisbury police station in the early hours of the morning. The man banged on the station door in Wilton Road at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday after spotting the saucer suspended in mid-air. 'He was 100 per cent convinced it was a UFO,' said Inspector Andy Shearing. The man said it was bright green and shaped like a triangle with rounded corners. It also had green and white flashing lights. Other drivers had seen it and were flashing their car lights at him. A patrol car took the driver back to the spot but there was no trace of the flying saucer. Inspector Shearing said police had been alerted about similar sightings in the same area in the past."

Although the Times called the object a "flying saucer," the description of it being "shaped like a triangle with rounded corners," sounds very much like the TR-3A. It's also a near-perfect description of equally unidentified aircraft that have become known within Ufology as "Flying Triangles." But here's the most important issue: the witness reported that the object he saw was "suspended in mid-air." This is particularly fascinating, as there are longstanding rumors that the TR-3A has hovering capabilities. It should be noted, too, that other stone circles in the United Kingdom are shrouded in mystery and high-strangeness.

Reports of hairy wild men absolutely abound throughout the English county of Staffordshire, but there is one area of the county that seems to attract a great deal more than its fair share of such activity. Its name is deeply familiar to one and all throughout the area as Castle Ring. Located near to the village of Cannock Wood, Castle Ring is an Iron Age structure commonly known as a Hill Fort. It is 801 feet above sea level, and its main ditch and bank enclosure is fourteen feet high and, at its widest point, 853 feet across. It has to be admitted that very little is known about the mysterious and long-forgotten people who built Castle Ring, except to say that they were already in residence at the time of the Roman invasion of A.D. 43 and remained there until approximately A.D. 50. Some suggest that the initial foundations of Castle Ring may even have been laid as early as 500 B.C. Moreover, historians suggest that the creators of Castle Ring might have represented a powerful body of people that held firm sway over certain other parts of Staffordshire, as well as significant portions of both Shropshire and Cheshire at the time in question. 

(Nick Redfern) Castle Ring

On May 1, 2004, Alec Williams was driving passed the car-park that sits at the base of Castle Ring when he witnessed a hair-covered, man-like entity lumber across the road and into the trees. A shocked Williams stated that the sighting lasted barely a few seconds, but that he was able to make out its amazing form: "It was about seven feet tall, with short, shiny, dark brown hair, a large head and had eyes that glowed bright red." Interestingly, Williams stated that as he slowed his vehicle down, he witnessed something akin to a camera flash coming from the depths of the woods and heard a cry that he described as a howl. 

Now, for some fascinating information from Jon Downes of the U.K.'s Center for Fortean Zoology. Jon reveals: "One of the most credible reports brought to my attention came from a family that had a daylight encounter with a large and hairy beast in the Peak District in 1991. This all occurred as they were driving near Ladybower Reservoir on the Manchester to Sheffield road. On a hillside, one of the family members had spotted a large figure walking down towards the road. But this was no man. Well, they brought the car to a screeching halt and came face to face with an enormous creature about eight feet tall, that was covered in long brown hair with eyes just like a man’s. Its walk was different, too, almost crouching. But just as the man-beast reached the road, another car pulled up behind the family and blasted their horn – apparently wondering why they had stopped in the middle of the road. Suddenly, the creature – which I presume was startled by the noise - ran across the road, jumped over a wall that had a ten-foot drop on the other side, and ran off, disappearing into the woods. Now, I know that the family has returned to the area but has seen nothing since."

It’s also worth noting that, with regard to the sighting of the large and lumbering beast that was seen near the Peak District-based Ladybower Reservoir in November 1991, less than one mile away, on Stanton Moor, stands a stone circle called the Nine Ladies. It was constructed during the Bronze Age era, and is a place at which, every year, druids and pagans alike celebrate the summer solstice. For sure, a wealth of mysteries to resolve.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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