The famed British monument standing in the fields of Wiltshire today dates back as far as 3000BC and has puzzled researchers for centuries. Most archaeologists believe it was used as a burial ground for more than 500 years, and some agree it was of possible spiritual importance, due to the encompassing horseshoe arrangement being aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice. But researcher Michael Goff has developed a new theory that Stonehenge was used as a “seasonally varying sundial” to “tell the time accurately on a single day of the year”.
Mr Goff, who is a music teacher by trade, has published a study in which he claims the stone circle was used in 2,500BC to pass light through the trilithons at “regular intervals” to create shadows.
He told Express.co.uk: “The study is to some extent a set of observations which demonstrate that Stonehenge marks regular intervals of time and is, therefore, a type of megalithic sundial.
“However, as it uses a 30-hour day, this has never been realised before simply because the ‘strikes’ do not conform to on-the-hour if using a 24-hour time-system.
“You have to be working with hours of 48-minute duration.
“Stonehenge has been recognised as a structure that marks the Sun’s path on the solstices and as such has been recognised as a solar calendar – what has been missed in the past is the fact that it doesn’t just mark annual time, but also daily time.
“It is also important to note that Stonehenge, as a sundial, is seasonally variable – the time reading varies with the variation in the Sun’s position from season to season – in this way it is similar to the ancient Egyptian shadow clocks.”
Mr Goff, who got into researching Stonehenge after building small-scale stone circles himself, said his theory “radically alters our view of Stonehenge, from a temple to a technology”.
Last month, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from University College London (UCL), made a breakthrough in the understanding of the Neolithic construction after the discovery of a similar ancient stone structure at Waun Mawn, in the Preseli Hills.
Experts now theorise the dismantled monument in Wales became the “building blocks” of the Stonehenge attraction that stands in Salisbury, Wiltshire, today.
And Mr Goff says this only supports his theory further.
He told Express.co.uk: “My theory indicates that they used the southern cross as a star constellation to follow and to judge time.
“Each time the southern cross was back on due south it would sit in the south gap at Stonehenge and this could be used to observe the change in the position of the Sun and, over the course of a year, this gives you a calendar.
“However, the southern cross was only visible in the northern hemisphere due to the difference in the Earth’s tilt between then and now.
“At the location of Waun Mawn in Wales, because it is slightly further north, the southern cross was closer to disappearing below the horizon than it was at the area of Stonehenge.”
Mr Goff claims moving the stone circle south gave the builders “several hundred more years in which they could use the southern cross to mark their calendar”.
Stonehenge was produced by a culture that left no written records, leaving it open to speculation.
Many aspects of the monument, such as how it was built and for what purposes it was used, remain subject to debate.
The site, specifically the great trilithon, the encompassing horseshoe arrangement of the five central trilithons and the embanked avenue, are aligned to both the summer and winter solstice.
A natural landform at the monument’s location followed this line, and experts have previously stated it may have inspired its construction.
Further astronomical associations and the precise significance of the site for its people are still heavily debated.
But Mr Goff states that his study presents evidence that Stonehenge was the product of “a solar cult or followed a religious and scientific interest concerned with plotting the movement of the Sun”.
You can read his full paper, which Mr Goff hopes to be peer-reviewed soon, here.