This film seriously considers in terms of religious beliefs of ancient agrarian communities a
pertinent and seemly proposal about the underlying meaning of the stone arrangements at
prehistoric Stonehenge and Avebury, and tests it by experimental archaeology.
It introduces the well-loved concept of a belief in the ‘Marriage of the Gods’—as documented
historically for Classical Ancient Greece and the Near and Middle East at the time of the
European Bronze Age and Classical Mediterranean Age—and applies it to the megalithic
monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge.
As understood from historical sources, the basic belief was that at auspicious times of the year
some ‘mother figure’—symbolising female fertility for early agricultural peoples, like an Earth
Mother, Terra Mater, Mother Goddess—was deemed to be in wedlock with a male deity as represented
by a sky figure, such as a Sky Father when manifest as a Sun God or Storm God.
It happens that such an inferred marriage visibly takes place at Stonehenge and at Avebury even
today, nearly 5000 years after the concept appears to have been devised for these megalithic monuments.
Axial site alignment with chosen sunrises ensured that the light of the rising sun would directly
illuminate a positioned megalith, and that four minutes later the shadow of a phallic megalith
(the Sky Father’s supposed representative on Earth) would engage with that same key female stone,
thus completing the hieros gamos or Sacred Wedding at the site. By this means, the waiting
populace would watch an actual consummation of the gods. The principal date in question is the
midsummer sunrise for both monuments, and for Avebury the May Day sunrise as well.
In making this film for Channel 4 and Discovery Channel, I thank the National Trust at Avebury
and English Heritage at Stonehenge for allowing us to perform the Sacred Marriage reconstructions.
I appreciate the support and encouragement of Professor Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol)
regarding the principle of Sacred Marriage as applied to the stones; and Professor Radhakrishnan
Praim Singh of Pennsylvania University for confirming the parallelism that is here apparent
between aspects of the Hindu religion and inferred aspects of Pre-Indo-European beliefs in
Dr Edwin Krupp, Los Angeles, and Professor Ian Hodder, Cambridge University, provided good
spoken support when treating, respectively, aspects of Earth Mother/Sky Father belief for the
American Indians and female-deity belief for Neolithic communities at Catal Huyuk, Anatolia,
I appreciate too that Professor Clive Ruggles and Dr Aubrey Burl usefully contributed to the film.
Thanks also to Mr. Michael Pitts for welcoming the proposal that male-female fertility and the
May Day solar alignment could explain the shapes, positions and functions of the Obelisk and
the May Day Stone in Avebury’s southern circle; and to Dr. Timothy Taylor, University of Bradford,
who helpfully supported the generalised Earth Mother womb hypothesis for the meaning of Early
Neolithic long barrows when we were filmed together inside Hetty Pegler’s Tump in Gloucestershire.
Dr. G. Terence MEADEN, M.Sc (archaeology, Oxford); M.A, D.Phil (physics, Oxford)