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Stonehenge Has Got a Younger Sister Ales Stones in Sweden Decoded

Abstract

We report a novel finding that Stonehenge in England and Ales Stones in Sweden were built with the same basic geometry and using the megalithic yard as standard of measure. This opens quite new perspectives into cultural influence, travel and trading in the Bronze Age.
International Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2012, 2, 23-27
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ijaa.2012.21004 Published Online March 2012 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ijaa) 23
Stonehenge Has Got a Younger Sister
Ales Stones in Sweden Decoded
Nils-Axel Mörner1, Bob G. Lind2
1Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden
2Archaeoastronomy, Malmö, Sweden
Email: morner@pog.nu
Received October 25, 2011; revised December 12, 2011; accepted December 23, 2011
ABSTRACT
We report a novel finding that Stonehenge in England and Ales Stones in Sweden were built with the same basic ge-
ometry and using the megalithic yard as standard of measure. This opens quite new perspectives into cultural influence,
travel and trading in the Bronze Age.
Keywords: Archaeoastronomy; Stone Calendars; Stonehenge; Ales Stones
1. Introduction
Stonehenge is a remarkable megalithic monument from
the Neolithic period dating at about 3000 to 2000 BC. It
is monumental and visited by about 1 million people
every year. It must be held as one of the most important
archaeological objects in the world. Numerous papers
and books have been devoted to its construction and as-
sumed practical/ceremonial use [1-6]. In 1963, Hawkins
published an article in Nature entitled Stonehenge De-
coded [7] where he quite convincingly demonstrated that
Stonehenge was an archaeoastronomical calendar. This
paper surely stands out as a benchmark paper. Stone-
henge is, of course, on the World Heritage list.
Today, 38 years later, we trust we are able to claim
Ales Stones Decoded. Ales Stones is a megalithic monu-
ment in southeast Sweden. It has the form of a 69.8 m
long and 18.8 m wide ship composed of 57 erected
blocks. The stone-ship is organized as a perfect calendar
recording the annual motions of the Sun, the 12 months
(eleven of 30 days and one of 35 days; i.e. in total 365
days per year) and the daily movements of the Sun with
respect to zenith in the south-north line [8,9]. The
monument has a remarkable location at the top of a 40 m
high glacial moraine with a steep erosional cliff to the
Baltic Sea (Figure 1). It is visited by some 0.7 million
people every year.
2. Built in the Bronze Age
The stem and stern stones consist of quartzite. They are
sharp-edged indicating quarrying. Their internal structure
reveals its origin in the quartzite bedrock out-cropping
some 30 km to the east [8,10]. The blocks are likely to have
been transported from there to Ales Stones by rafts (or,
maybe, pulled over the winter ice). From a landing place
Figure 1. The stone-ship Ales Stones resting monumentally
on the flat surface of a moraine ridge from the deglacial
period some 13,000 years ago. The sea cliff is about 40 m
high. Inserted picture shows the ship from the stern. Two
stones marking the stem and the stern consist of quartzite
quarried 30 km to the east. All the other stones seem to
represent erratic boulders collected from the surface of the
surrounding moraines. Yellow dot marks the site where an
imprint depression of one of the stones was found and ex-
cavated in 2011 [12]. It is covered by eolian sand deposited
at about 600 BC. The yellow lines at the shore mark sec-
tions where charcoal (dated 785 ± 20 cal. yrs BC) and
mounds with bones from assumed offering were found, all
covered by eolian sand from about 600 BC.
C
opyright © 2012 SciRes. IJAA
N.-A. MÖRNER ET AL.
24
at the foot of the cliff, the stones were then pulled up to
the site of erection in the stem and stern of the ship. At
the proposed landing place, there is a buried land surface
with lots of bones (primarily of pigs, especially young
pigs) and charcoal, radiocarbon dated at 785 ± 20 cal. yrs
BC [8]. The surface is covered by eolian sand deposited
at around 600 BC. Between this landing point and the
stern stone, there are traces of a buried transportation
way [8,11]. Here, too, the old land surface is covered by
eolian sand deposited 600 BC.
All the other 55 stones in Ales Stones seem to be er-
ratic boulders collected from the surface of the old gla-
cial and late glacial deposits in the surroundings [10], not
least the moraine ridge itself. Some of the stones show
signs of severe wind erosion typical for the pre-glacial
landscape. This summer, we excavated the imprint in the
till surface of a huge block. The block was about 3.2 ×
1.2 × 0.5 m. One of the stones in Ales Stones (60 m away)
seems to fit quite well into the imprint hollow. The old
till surface and the imprint hollow are now covered by
eolian sand deposited 600 BC. Consequently, the re-
moval of the block, the transportation away and erection
in Ales Stones must pre-date the wind blown sand at 600
BC [12]. There- fore, we conclude that Ales Stones were
erected in the late Bronze Age (or earlier, but not later).
The individual stones in Ales Stones are full of cup
marks, a favourite object in Scandinavian rock-carving
from the Bronze Age (but also occurring in the Neolithic
and Early Iron Age). Most important are the cup marks
on the top of stone 8 from the stem stone and stone 8
from the stern stone (Figure 2) because they exhibit per-
fect solar alignments [8,9]. Therefore, they must have
been cut into the tops of those two stones when the
stones were erected and in place; i.e. in the late Bronze
Figure 2. Ales Stones with the alignments (blue arrows) of the
sunrise and sunset at Winter and Summer solstice. On the
top of stones 8 in the NW and the SE, there are cup marks,
which exhibit strict alignments to the solar motions [8]. The
four number 8 stones form a rectangle marked in yellow.
Age at around 700- 800 BC (cf. below).
3. Function and Basic Geometry
Ales Stones is built so that, seen from the centre, the Sun
rises over the stern stone at Winter solstice and sets over
the stem stone at Summer solstice. The Sun rises at
Summer solstice between the two stones marking the
mid-ship in NE and sets at Winter solstice between the
opposite stones in SW. Similarly, the Sun rise and Sun
set at equinoxes occur over the 12th stones marking the
E-W alignment. All the main six solar events are re-
corded in Figure 3. The alignments recorded can, of
course, not be a mere coincidence. It must be the result of
a careful planning. The cup marks on stones 8 in the west
and the east (Figure 2) give the same alignments. This
lends strong support for an interpretation in terms of an
ancient calendar.
The stone arrangements also provides a record of the
months, all of 30 days except for the 7th month that had
35 days, making a total year of 365 days [8]. Sun rises
over the stern stone on December 24 (Winter solstice) at
08.34, over stone 3 on January 23 at 08.15, over stone 9
on February 22 at 07.15, over stone 12 on March 24 at
06.00, over stone 14 on April 23 at 04.40, over stone 15
on May 23 at 03.42 and over stone 16 on June 22 (Sum-
mer solstice) at 03.20. Sun sets over the stem stone on
June 22 (Summer solstice) at 20.48, over stone 3 on July
Figure 3. Ales Stones (with reconstructed shape at the stem;
cf. Figure 2) and its very strict alignments with respect to
the sunrise at Winter solstice, Spring equinox, Summer
solstice and Autumn equinox, and the sunset at Winter sol-
stice, Spring equinox, Summer solstice and Autumn equi-
nox. There is a minor deviation of 38.5 cm or 0.77˚ with
respect to the strict NW-SE symmetry axis. This is consis-
tent with an age of construction of around 700 BC [8].
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJAA
N.-A. MÖRNER ET AL. 25
27 at 20.15, over stone 9 on August 26 at 19.15, over
stone 12 on September 25 at 18.00, over stone 14 on Oc-
tober 25 at 16.40, over stone 15 on November 24 at
15.42 and over stone 16 on December 24 (Winter solstice)
at 15.30. Every single step is recorded by photos taken
from the centre of the ship [8]. This can hardly be under-
stood in other terms than a carefully planned calendar.
The daily motion of the Sun is recorded by 16 stones,
each one of which represents 1.5 hours. A pole in the
centre inclined at 30˚ to the north gives a shadow passing
from stone to stone at an interval of 1.5 hours [8].
The alignments are very exact (Figure 3). There is a
small deviation, however. The Sun rises at Winter sol-
stice about 38.5 cm or 0.77˚ east of the centre of the stern
stone, and Sun sets at Summer solstice about 38.5 cm or
0.77˚ west of the centre of the stem stone. This discrep-
ancy is caused by the long-term changes of the tilt of
Earth’s rota- tional axis. Converted to time, this deviation
implies an age of the construction of the calendar of
about 700 BC [8], an age that fits perfectly well with our
stratigraphical records indicating that the stones were
taken out of the ground and placed in the ship shortly
before the sand drift at 600 BC [8,11,12].
A recent finding is that the standard of measure in as-
sociation with Ales Stones seem to fit with the Mega-
lithic Yard (MY) [9]. This standard of measure was used
all over the British Islands during the Neolithic and
Bronze Age [13].
The form of a ship is, of course, the most basic shape
of the Ales Stone monument. One may, however, also
identify some other basic geometric signs. They are: 1) a
rectangle of the 4 stones termed stones 8 (from the stem
and the stern, respectively), two of which have special
cup mark figures on their tops (Figure 2); 2) a circle
through the corners of the before mentioned rectangle
and the stones off the mid-ship alignments of the Sun rise
at Summer solstice and Sun set at Winter solstice; and 3)
the alignment of the Sun rise at Summer solstice (Figure
4). We use these 3 geometric signs in a comparison with
the same basic geometry of the Stonehenge monument.
4. Comparison with Stonehenge
The original plan of Stonehenge given by Hawkins [7],
includes 3 basic geometric factors: 1) the rectangle
formed by the station stones; 2) the circle of the Aubrey
Holes; and 3) the line of the first sunbeams at the Sum-
mer sol- stice (Figure 5). This is an important record of
the basic geometry behind Stonehenge. The problem,
however, is that the figure is not drawn to a fixed scale;
rather it is a sketch expressing the basic principles [7].
In Figure 6, the monument is drawn in its correct pro-
portions [3]. We have marked the basic three elements; 1)
the rectangle of the station stones; 2) the circle of the
Aubrey Holes; and 3) the sightline of the first Sun beams
Figure 4. Besides the form of a ship, Ales Stones has a basic
geometry consisting of a rectangle (yellow), a circle (pink)
and the line of the first sunbeam at Summer solstice (red
arrow). The length of the ship, the sides of the rectangle and
the diameter of the circle suggests that the standard of
measure was the Megalithic Yard [9,13].
Figure 5. The original drawing of Stonehenge by Hawkins
[7] can be simplified by 3 basic elements; the rectangle (of
the Station stones), the Aubrey circle and the line of the
first sunbeam at Summer solstice. The figure is a sketch,
however, not drawn to a fixed scale.
Figure 6. Stonehenge as drawn to a strict scale with its 3
basic elements marked; the rectangle (yellow), the circle (pink)
and the alignment to the sunrise at Summer solstice (red
arrow).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJAA
N.-A. MÖRNER ET AL.
26
at Summer solstice. This implies that both Stonehenge
(Figure 6) and Ales Stones (Figure 4) seem to be built
with the same basic geometry.
In Figure 7, we have made the 3 basic geometric pa-
rameters of Stonehenge (Figure 6) transparent, and su-
perposed it on Figure 4 of Ales Stones. The agreement is
striking: the two rectangles have almost the same propor-
tions, the two circles overlap perfectly well, and the
alignment of the first Sun beams at Summer solstice is
identical. This can hardly be a coincidence. Rather does
it seem to indicate that both monuments were built after
the same basic geometric principle. This may sound as-
tonishing because of geographic distance and difference
in time. It can be taken as new facts pointing to quite
another cultural interchange between Britain and Scan-
dinavia than generally realized.
Other facts point in the same direction. “The boy with
the amber necklace,” buried at Boscombe Down, 5 km
SE of Stonehenge, and dated at 1550 BC bear witness of
travel and cultural interchange [14-16]. The isotopic
composition of his milk teeth is indicative a childhood in
the Mediterranean. The 90 amber beads in his necklace
have a provenance from the south Baltic coasts. This
provides evidence of long-distance migration and trading.
The southeast part of Sweden may even have been some
sort of trading centre [17-19].
The similarity in basic geometry of Stonehenge and
Ales Stones and the application of the megalithic yard as
a standard of measure at both sites provide quite strong
arguments for a cultural connection, including migration
and trading, between Britain and Southern Scandinavia
in the Bronze Age.
5. Conclusions
In 1963, Hawkins presented his bench-mark paper enti-
tled “Stonehenge decoded” [7]. We are now able the say
the same about Ales Stones. Obviously, it was built as a
sophisticated calendar. The stone ship of Ales Stones was
erected in the late Bronze Age, judging from multiple
converging age determinations [8,11,12].
A novel finding, not previously presented, is that
Stonehenge and Ales Stones are built with the same basic
geometry. Furthermore, the standard of measure is the
megalithic yard in both monuments.
Obviously, Britain and southern Scandinavia were
linked by cultural influences, travel and trading in the
Bronze Age.
Stonehenge belongs to the Neolithic period and Ales
Stones to the late Bronze Age. The geometric linkage of
the two monuments (Figure 7) reveals an influence from
Britain to southern Sweden. One may say: “Stonehenge
has got a younger sisterbut so much more beautiful”.
Finally, we find Ales Stones so remarkable both in
beauty and in scientific value that it deserves to become
Sun rise at
Smmer
Solstice
Figure 7. Superposition of Stonehenge (Figure 6; transpar-
ent) on top of Ales Stones (Figure 4). The 3 basic geometric
elements the rectangle, the circle and the Summer solstice
alignment are almost identical. This cannot be a mere coin-
cidence. Rather does it seem to indicate that both monu-
ments were built after the same basic concept. This would
imply that there was quite another cultural exchange in the
Bronze Age than generally assumed. It fits, however, with
new findings in England [14-16] and Sweden [8,17-19].
incorporated on the World Heritage list.
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1963, pp. 306-308. doi:10.1038/200306a0
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spår på Österlen,” Stjärnljusets Förlag, Malmö, 2010.
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Ales Stenar (Summary: Stonehenge-Ales Stenar: Built
with the Same Basic Geometry and with the Megalithic
Yard as Standard),” Stiärnljusets Förlag, Malmö, 2011.
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toria,” Ale, Historisk Tidskrift för Skåne, Vol. 4, 1988, pp.
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[11] P. Wikström, “Arkeologiska Undersökningar Med Mark-
radar vid Ales Stenar,” Radarteam AB, Rapport 10-901,
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Stenar in 2011, Part 2, pp. 1-24 (in Swedish).
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Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJAA
27
[13] A. Thom and A. Burl, “Stones and Standing Stones: Brit-
ain, Ireland and Brittany,” Oxford, 1990.
[14] J. A. Evens, C. A. Chenary and A. P. Fitzpatrick, “Bronze
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309-321. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4754.2006.00258.x
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[16] J. A. Evens, “Stonehenge Boy Was from the Mediterra-
nean (2010), The boy with Amber Necklace: Bronze Age
Teenager Buried at Stonehenge Had Travelled to Visit
Site from the Mediterranean,”
http://www.bgs.ac.uk/staff/profiles/0394.html
[17] N.-A. Mörner, B. G. Lind and G. Possnert, “Heimdall’s
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naler, Vol. 91A, No. 3, 2009, pp. 205-213.
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[19] N.-A. Mörner and B. G. Lind, “Long-Distance Travel and
Trading in the Bronze Age,” Atlantis 2011, 3rd Interna-
tional Conference, Santorini, 25-26 June 2011, 4 Pages.
(Also: In: S. P. Paraminopoulos, Ed., The Atlantis Hy-
pothesis-Commentary 2011, Heliotopos Publ., Athens,
2012, in Press).
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Heimdall's Stones at Vitemölla is an archaeological monument of stones arranged in circles and where sightlines can be identified of the sunrise and sunset at winter and summer solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes. Therefore, this stone monument is likely to have served as an archaeoastronomic observatory. It is founded in a fossil land surface now covered by half a metre of eolian sand. In order to date this sand drift, sediment coring was performed in the nearby Sandefloen bog. Seven levels were subjected to AMS C14 dating. The first sand drift, correlated with the sand drift covering Heimdall's Stones, was dated at 500–600 cal.bc. Consequently, the observatory has to date back to the Bronze Age, fitting well with its Sun cult and with the rock carvings recorded on the individual stones. At the seashore 500 m east of the observatory and the bog, we were able to reconstruct the sea-level changes. In conclusion, we combine the recorded sea-level changes with the C14-dated bog stratigraphy and the observed stratigraphy at Heimdall's Stones (covering an area of 500×500 m) into one unified picture. The chronostratigraphic position of Heimdall's Stones agrees well with the dating of the Kivik grave. The Vitemölla area is likely to have been an important cultural centre in the Bronze Age.
Article
Contrasting lifestyles are recorded by the isotope composition of Bronze Age Beaker people (c. 2500–2000 bc) from three burial sites (Boscombe Down, Normanton Down and the ditch around Stonehenge) at or near to the Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire, southern England. Seven individuals (three adults, a sub-adult, two juveniles and an infant) were recovered from a single grave at Boscombe Down. Strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of tooth enamel from two teeth (a premolar and third molar) from each of three of the adults in this grave (referred to as Boscombe Bowmen) show that they had all shared a pattern of mobility and migration during their lives. The three adult males spent their early childhood (as represented by data from the premolar teeth) in an area with a radiogenic ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr isotope signature of around 0.7135. They each then moved, during early adolescence (as represented by the third molar results), to a less radiogenic area, where they acquired an ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr signature of around 0.7112. This implies that they must then have travelled to the Stonehenge area of Wiltshire at a later time in their lives. Wales provides the closest area with rocks that supply suitable ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr ratios and δ¹⁸O isotope compositions for these individuals, although other areas of Palaeozoic rock, such as Scotland and parts of Europe, cannot be ruled out.
Stonehenge and Neighbouring Monuments
  • R J C Atkinson
R. J. C. Atkinson, "Stonehenge and Neighbouring Monuments," English Heritage, London, 1993.
Stonehenge, Mysteries of the Stones and Landscape
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D. Souden, "Stonehenge, Mysteries of the Stones and Landscape," English Heritage, London, 1997.
The Stonehenge Story
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C. Nutt, "The Stonehenge Story," English Heritage, London, 2004.
Mykenska och Fenisiska spår på Österlen
  • B G Lind
  • N.-A Mörner
B. G. Lind and N.-A. Mörner, "Mykenska och Fenisiska spår på Österlen," Stjärnljusets Förlag, Malmö, 2010.