The World of Stonehenge at the British Museum
One of the most iconic landmarks in the UK, Stonehenge has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world, inspiring myths and legends about the secrets that could lie in the stone circle. The World of Stonehenge exhibit at the British Museum sets out to reveal these secrets, with a selection of archaeological discoveries that paint a comprehensive picture of Stonehenge’s history, from the communities that predated it to its creation and use by early Europeans to its twilight years.
The narrative told through the artefacts on display is a fascinating one, showing evolution across the years in both technology and culture, highlighting the ways that attitudes to life and death changed – and stayed the same – over Stonehenge’s vibrant history. These explorations encompass all facets of life, from farming and hunting to art and culture, representing the constantly shifting tides of history that Stonehenge was a direct part of for many years.
From a modern perspective, it’s easy to forget that Stonehenge was once an active location used by a number of communities, but The World of Stonehenge breathes life into the history of this famous site and tells the story of the people who built the monument and imbued it with the cultural and spiritual significance it still holds today.
One of the most striking pieces in the exhibit is the Nebra Sky Disk, the oldest depiction of the cosmos found anywhere in the world. Surrounded by golden artefacts with solar motifs used in worship, it’s a gorgeous artefact, and one that forges a real connection between people past and present. Another remarkable object is Seahenge, a wooden henge from Norfolk. The display features built-in speakers that play the sounds of the sea, creating a powerful sensory experience that represents the relationship monuments like these – and the people who made them – had with the natural world.
Stonehenge is a monument with a lot of mystique and mystery attached to it over many years, and The World of Stonehenge does an excellent job at unravelling the secrets of the landmark. As it turns out, the “secret” of Stonehenge is at once very simple and deeply complex: it was a place where humans gathered, met and loved. If that seems too straightforward an answer to the question that is Stonehenge, The World of Stonehenge shows that life and love, no matter the era, are anything but.
The World of Stonehenge is at the British Museum from 17th February until 17th July 2022. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.