The Stonehenge mystery solved by a gardener is making news headlines this week, and it makes many people wonder why a gardener is solving a Stonehenge mystery that eluded archaeologists and historians. There are many mysteries surrounding the Stonehenge. This week’s so-called amazing discovery is discussing the question as to whether Stonehenge was once a complete circle or not. According to a Slate report on Sept. 4, “dry weather and a short hose may have revealed one of the prehistoric monument’s secrets.”
While many people have always believed that Stonehenge used to be a complete circle (before someone needed a few of the stones for something more useful), historians were not quite as convinced.
“Historians have long debated whether Stonehenge was a full or incomplete circle, with some arguing a lack of stones in the south-west quadrant is proof it was never complete,” reports the BBC. “Previous scientific techniques such as geophysics failed to find any evidence.”
But who needs archeologists or historians to solve one of the mysteries of Stonehenge if you have a gardener? According to a scientific paper published in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity, “a chance appearance of parchmarks” discovered by a gardener provides evidence that Stonehenge was once a complete circle.
The “parchmarks” were discovered by gardener Tim Daw whose job was to water the grass around the stones during the driest weeks of the summer. In July of last year, gardener Daw had to use a water hose that did not reach the south-west quadrant of Stonehenge.
Coincidentally (or was it?) this was also the part where there was a gap in the otherwise Stonehenge circle. Daw recalls the moment when he noticed something that apparently had eluded historians so far:
“I was standing on the public path looking at the grass near the stones and thinking that we needed to find a longer hosepipe to get the parched patches to green up. A sudden light-bulb moment in my head, and I remembered that the marks were where archaeologists had looked without success for signs that there had been stone holes, and that parch marks can signify them. I called my colleague over and he saw them and realised their possible significance as well. Not being archaeologists we called in the professionals to evaluate them. I am still amazed and very pleased that simply really looking at something, that tens of thousands of people had unwittingly seen, can reveal secrets that sophisticated machinery can't.”
The Stonehenge mystery solved, or at least one of the mysteries, by a gardener instead of archaeologists is somewhat hard to believe. Wouldn’t historians have taken a closer look at those missing spots during the past decades and maybe even dug up some of the grass which might explain the signs of dry patches? However, archaeologists are apparently stunned by the gardener’s keen observation and admit that they were unable to discover what Tim Daw did by merely looking at the site. In September's issue of the journal Antiquity, British archaeologist Mike Pitts explained the impact that the gardener's discovery has on the scientific community and Stonehenge:
"This is a wonderful piece of serendipitous research, highly productive and promptly published. If anyone remained unconvinced that new, targeted excavation at Stonehenge is needed, surely any doubts must now be dispelled?"