Stonehenge, the story so far, with Julian Richards

Archaeologist Julian Richards speaks about the when, the how and the what for of Stonehenge, as it is currently conceived


Stonehenge is marvellous, enigmatic, unique: an iconic megalithic structure that is recognised world-wide. It has attracted intrigue and speculation for a thousand years, is the subject of countless theories from inside and outside of archaeology and is viewed today as both a magnet for tourists and as a living temple.

Over the centuries Stonehenge has been ascribed to Merlin, Danes, Romans and Druids, while 20th century excavation and radiocarbon dating have finally given us a sequence of construction. Yet despite scientific advances there are some questions that are still unanswered: how were the stones moved and raised and, perhaps more contentious, what was the purpose of Stonehenge? Theories have been advanced, employing science, folklore and ethnographic evidence: a place of burial, a place of healing, a solar calendar. Or a combination of all of these.

This talk will examine current theories in the understanding that, even given advances in modern science, we will never know all the answers. The title of the talk (and that of the associated book that will be shamelessly promoted) is consequently very appropriate. It is the story - so far.


Julian Richards

Julian is an archaeologist and educator with a long and varied career in field archaeology, monument conservation, broadcasting, writing and outreach projects. His involvement with Stonehenge and its prehistoric landscape started in the 1980’s when he directed the Stonehenge Environs Project since when he has maintained his involvement with all aspects of its history and study.

He is the author of the current and previous English Heritage guidebooks in addition to a number of other publications on Stonehenge. His extensive collection of ‘Stonehengiana’ has been widely exhibited, most recently at the new Visitor centre and he has co-curated international exhibitions about the Stonehenge landscape. His most recent collaboration has been with the artist Jeremy Deller.

Julian, who lives in Dorset, is also a ceramic historian and petrolhead.

2019Martin Keeley