As unimaginable as it may seem to most members of the list, it is, even yet,
possible that there remain amongst us a small number (not many, maybe one or
two) of individuals who are not entirely convinced of the Surrounding Moat
of Stonehenge (Rockhenge) Hypothesis.
No, it's true. These pedantics just could not take for granted that the
builders would not have taken the trouble of providing such a moat unless
they were sure that water would be available to fill it. They argued that
the area around Stonehenge is dry, the underlying rock is too permeable, no
possibility of water to flow into a moat.
But now their doubts may be assuaged by new findings that will settle the
water availability question once and for all.
Relief comes in the form of none other than the 21st century's most
prominent Stonehenge expert MIKE PARKER-PEARSON (MPP).
MPP writes of a watercourse that rose from a spring at Lark Hill and flowed
past the eastern end of the Cursus and terminated near where the Stonehenge
Avenue approaches the Avon at West Amesbury.
(See paragraph below by MPP)
We know also from this that the people of that era were adept at directing
water to flow where they wanted it to flow since the spring that Mike Parker
Pearson describes rises at Larkhill and flows past the eastern end of the
Cursus which is to the west of King Barrows Ridge and ends in West Amesbury
which is to the east of the ridge. Since 'natural watercourses' do not
normally cross ridges we may be reasonably certain that this watercourse
was manually directed from its natural course into Stonehenge Bottom and
redirected to flow to the Avenue at West Amesbury.
The elevation at the eastern end of the Cursus is 112 meters above sea
level. The highest point at Stonehenge is less than 105 meters.
For a spring to flow at 112 meters or higher, the water table would have had
to be at least that high, and the potentiometric surface may have been even
much higher than the spring.
Stonehenge and the Cursus share the same water table, so it is entirely
possible (if not probable) that there may have been a spring to the
northwest of Stonehenge that could have supplied water to fill a moat.
If such a spring did exist and fed water to a surrounding moat, the stream
would have necessarily entered the moat at the northwest highest point at
Stonehenge where there happens to be (coincidentally) an opening through the
outer wall of the ditch (moat), exactly what is to be expected if the ditch
were a moat.
In view of the above, it is entirely reasonable to believe that the source
of water to fill the surrounding moat could have been a spring to the
northwest of Stonehenge - possibly in the vicinity of the western end of the
Cursus, possibly closer to the monument, but the water course that MPP
speaks of is longer than would be required at Stonehenge.
So the above, verified by MPP's account, shows that water to fill a moat at
Stonehenge was possible.
The question then is, "Did such a spring and stream actually exist?".
We know where to look for the answer to that. Since the stream would have
flowed into the moat through the opening in the ditch at the northwest, an
investigation of the area across which the stream would have flowed should
provide some indication of the stream bed or trench. Excavation, ground
radar, core drilling or perhaps other means should be able to provide the
One caveat. An old roadbed lies tangent to Stonehenge immediately to the
northwest. At some point in the construction, usage, or dismantling of that
roadbed any evidence of a stream may have been lost, so an investigation to
find evidence of a stream may need to be carried out some distance away from
the ditch, but that location also should not be difficult to pin point.
No, I am not offering to finance a search for the spring or the
watercourse. I am already a believer.
Incidentally, about twenty years ago I posted to this list an admittedly
very unlikely hypothesis, one requirement of which was the need for a good
supply of water at the point where the Stonehenge Avenue crosses Kings
Barrow Ridge. I was assured at the time, by a list member who told us that
he had participated in the Sankey Canal Restoration, (which fact obviously
made him an expert on where water could or could not have flowed in the
Neolithic) that there was no possibility of a water supply at that point.
Of course, there was no way at the time to prove there was a watercourse
that flowed exactly through that point, so MPP's account is, if late, most
gratifying. Exoneration always is.
MPP's remarks below
Thanks for your attention. It would be interesting to hear what others think.
Mike Parker-Pearson writes:
The Stonehenge Avenue's precise terminus and character at the
riverbank is not known but it is located immediately downstream from a
spring which marks the end of a former water course that once rose on
Larkhill. The spring was probably higher up this small valley in the
Neolithic but the link with Larkhill may be deliberate rather than fortuitous.
This water course, insignificant today, may have been an important
feature of the sacred landscape of the Neolithic: as well as rising on
Larkhill, it also flows past the east end of an important earlier
monument, the Greater Cursus, which crosses the Stonehenge bowl
from east to west. This Cursus is another linear monument, consisting of
parallel ditches and internal banks running for over 2.5 km; it has not been
firmly dated by excavation but is accepted on the available evidence to have
been built around 3400-3000 BC, the Middle Neolithic. This class of linear
monuments is found throughout Britain
Their purpose is unclear although they are recognized to have had
ritual and ceremonial significance. Their most important feature is their
relationship with the surrounding landscape, particularly water: most
cursuses are positioned with water courses running perpendicular to them,
either at their ends or through their middles, and the Greater Cursus is no