Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK


Stonehenge face mystery

Silently watching us for 4,000 years?

By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse

Has the face of the creator of Stonehenge been staring at us unrecognised for more than 4,000 years?

A British archaeologist claims to have seen a face carved into the side of one of the mighty stones at Stonehenge.

[ image: The face can be seen on the side of a standing stone]
The face can be seen on the side of a standing stone
It is the first face ever seen on the Neolithic monument and one of the oldest works of art ever found in Britain.

It was recognised by Terrence Meaden, an archaeologist with a fascination for the ancient standing stones of the British Isles.

"I just happened to be there at the right time of day because only when the light is right can you see it properly. During the summer months it is only obvious for about a hour each day around 1400."

It is amazing that it has never been recognised before.

Dr Meaden believes that it was missed because previous researchers concentrated on the fronts of the standing stones and not their sides.

[ image: A face carved on an Avebury standing stone]
A face carved on an Avebury standing stone
The particular viewing conditions to see it at its best will have also played a part in it not being seen.

"But once you see it it's obvious," he says.

It seems to carry a serious expression, almost a frown, as it looks across the Salisbury plain.

Stonehenge was built about 2450 BC but why does Dr Meaden believe the carving was made at the time and was not done much later.

"Why would anyone do that?" he asks, "The type of stone, Sarsen, is the hardest stone know to man. It would have taken hundreds of hours working on a platform to do it. Why bother?"

Meaden's photographs are being evaluated by other archaeologists.

He also claims that other faces can clearly be seen on the Avebury stones not far from Stonehenge.

But who is the face of Stonehenge?

"We will never know," says Meaden, "He could be the patron of the monument or even its architect. Perhaps the designer of Stonehenge has been looking at us for four thousand years and we didn't see him."

Terence Meaden can be contacted by email at

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Sci/Tech Contents

Relevant Stories

15 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Oldest bread in Britain

31 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Woodhenge discovered near Stonehenge

15 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Seahenge gives up its secrets

04 May 99 | Sci/Tech
'Earliest writing' found

22 Apr 99 | Sci/Tech
Prehistoric Moon map unearthed

01 Apr 98 | Sci/Tech
The sound of the Neolithic

Internet Links

English Heritage

See more faces on Frank Wayman's Megalithic site

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

World's smallest transistor

Scientists join forces to study Arctic ozone

Mathematicians crack big puzzle

From Business
The growing threat of internet fraud

Who watches the pilots?

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer