watching one of those Stonehenge specials, hoping for a nugget of new info. (you watch enough of these, the programs are 3-5% interesting new angle/discovery, 40% dramatic reconstruction/bad graphics, 55-57% yawn) I did get it, but only right near the beginning, about the outer circle of bluestones that pre-date the sarsens that’re basically gravestones which very few of these ever touch on, and later insights into the analysing techniques they’re using. (always fascinating)
Apart from the giant ‘fuck you and your complete ignorance of a lot of army make-up throughout history’ when they said that ‘the presence of both sexes rules out the skeletons being warriors/army or a priesthood’, I spent a large amount of time rolling my eyes when it got onto the actual use of Stonehenge.
A few years back they started talking about the fact that the area around
Stonehenge for most of the year was tiny population and then became ground zero for the solstice festivals in these programs.
The analysis of pig teeth and human teeth showed how far people had come from and where. How many people. The short period of time the site was used for each year. The fact that so much food was being consumed and roasted up that loads was being thrown away. The rubbish. The sheer amount of preparation that went into this. Stonehenge being a destination for partying/observance. and that all this was AMAZING and UNIQUE.
To which I sit here and go ‘None of you fuckers excavating and analysing come from a festival town, do you?’
I come from Reading, in Berkshire. For the past several decades we’ve hosted a music festival on the last weekend of August and been doing it longer than most. Thousands of people descend from all over Britain and the world, party their heads off for a few days, then go home, a lot poorer, covered in paint, mud, clutching some utterly random souvenir and unbelievably hungover. The town has been doing this for so long that we have a system for doing this. The locals actually work on auto-pilot - the construction of the site starts in late spring/early summer, the supermarkets get stock in and re-arrange, the barriers and signs go up, etc. Locals not working the festival stay out of town for the weekend, the festival goers leave, the site gets cleaned up. This happens every year. Around the world and across the millennia of human civilisation, there have been festival towns where a big fuck-off festival happened once a year or every couple of years where people descend to party. San Diego for Comic-Con. Olympus. Mecca. Leeds. Glastonbury.
Seriously. I was ticking off every item they talked about and going 'Well, duh?'
'They travelled for a month with all these goods!'
'They do that.'
'The sheer amount of food consumed!'
'Partied solid for three days!'
'It was a tiny village that somehow accommodated a population explosion!'
'You have the cash, we have the experience.'
'You want it disorganised?'
'What part of festival town DO YOU NOT GET?'