I was more than a little disappointed, as a Druid and as a Stonehenge fan, with the National Geographic Channel’s program called “Stonehenge Decoded.”
First off, the title was stolen from a famous book, Stonehenge Decoded, by Gerald S Hawkins. This was the book that first suggested that the famous stone circle was a neolithic “computer,” designed to predict various astronomical events such as solstices, equinoxes, eclipses, and more. While the television program referred to the solstices and equinoxes being observable there, neither eclipses nor Hawkins’ name were mentioned.
The program was mostly fluff. I saw about twenty minutes of solid information concerning archaeological discoveries made in the early 2000s in the area surrounding Stonehenge, mostly involving a huge seasonal village that was there. The rest of the two hours was melodramatic “reconstruction” of possible pre-historical scenarios.
To be completely fair, I did find the archaeologists’ linking of the nearby Woodhenge to Stonehenge via newly discovered “avenues” to be enlightening and their theory about processional routes plausible. Then they repeated for the dozeneth time the only special effect their video editors seemed to know how to do: exploding the sun into a giant fireball.
More importantly, current details and theories about Stonehenge were missing. The computer reconstructions of Stonehenge did not include the second “Hele Stone” that originally framed the summer solstice sunrise. While I predicted thirty years ago that there would probably have been one, the pit in which such a stone sat was discovered only a year or two ago. Without it, the romanticized ceremonies shown in the program had the sun rising directly over the remaining stone.
A number of scholars have recently pointed out that moving multi-ton stones twenty-five miles would be a lot easier and faster in winter than in summer, yet the program assumed the latter, turning the movement of one stone into a dramatic six month trek.
In short, the program was a few years obsolete before it was broadcast. Maybe if they had spent less time on cheezy special effects and over the top drama, they might have needed less production time and could have included newer materials.
I give this program only one menhir out of three!