Category Archives: Religion

Oh for the love of God

The diocese of Bath and Wells in England has banned garden gnomes from graveyards.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Bath and Wells said: “There is no such thing as a real gnome so why should we have such unnatural creatures in churchyards?”

The spokesman added: “Things such as gnomes and plastic flowers are not permitted because they are aesthetically unattractive and they make it harder to maintain the grounds.

Links o' the day, 3/10/08

Sarah Winterburn wonders why Roy Keane is immune from criticism despite spending £30m on players and still being mid-table.

Rick O’Shea has links to 10 divinely designed churches.

Get your hands on a piece of dictatorial luxury: Saddam’s rocket-launching yacht is for sale.

It’s going to take over from Vista and you know Microsoft is going to give it a major push, so best take a look at Windows 7’s features (with video). And don’t forget Windows Azure.

It seems like a trivial quibble, but boot times are just too long in a world accustomed to instant gratification.

Tell Paulo what you think the world will be like in 12 months’ time.

I’m rapidly running out of energy.

Links o' the day, 23/10/2008

The journey so far… in numbers (Kathy Foley)

My Saks spree: How to spend $150,000 like Palin (Slate, chosen more for its oddness than me having an interesting in such shopping :P)

Is this the most eco-friendly car innovation since the hybrid? (Treehugger)

Leukemia drug halts, reverses MS (AFP)

New car targets 1,000mph record (Sky)

In Jordan, prayers for the persecuted (The National)

Fake cop busted after stopping real one (AP)

The return of micro-states? (Catholicgauze)

Dolls and toys that creep us out (Dark Roasted Blend)

X-rays made from Scotch tape (Boing Boing)

Stonehenge's secret uncovered?

Picture: Frédéric Vincent

Two English professors are convinced they know the true reason behind the prehistoric monument: It was a healing centre to attract pilgrims from across Europe.

Geoffrey Wainwright and Timothy Darvill

said the key to their theory was Stonehenge’s double circle of bluestones — a rare rock known to geologists as spotted dolomite — which lie at the centre of the monument.

The theory is based on the large amount of flakes of this rock, which has been found in tombs across the area. The tombs also contained bones showing signs of injury or disease.

It doesn’t ring true for me. That’s not to say the two aren’t right — after all, they’re the ones who’ve studied the thing and I’m just a history student — but to make the leap from rocks in tombs to European pilgrimage centre is vast, to say the least; if they have evidence that the dolomite, which was mined in Wales, is found in tombs across Europe, or if DNA analysis of the remains hinted that the bodies were of people from the continent, the news reports are silent. EDIT: I’ve found an article on the Daily Telegraph website stating that teeth were analysed and show half of the nearby bodies were of people “not native” to the local area (although it doesn’t state if they are continental in origin).


said the bluestones were prized for their healing properties — as evidenced by the small mountain of flakes the scientists uncovered during their dig.

Maybe they just thought the dolomite was pretty, or perhaps it had some trade value. Future archaeologists will see all sorts in our graves. It doesn’t mean our grave goods were believed to have some healing power.

Like all good researchers of prehistory, the pair agree that the site could have had other uses, perhaps as a religious centre.

I find myself wondering if my (I stress non-hostile) opposition to Wainwright and Darvill is the manifestation of a desire for Stonehenge to remain unexplained, or at least to have a more imagination-catching explanation. But this doesn’t seem to ring true, either. In all likelihood, far too much time has passed for a definitive reasoning to be established. It’s still fun to speculate, though.