October 26th marks 100 years since Sir Cecil Chubb donated Stonehenge to the public. Susie Kearley looks at some of the myths associated with the ancient site, including its strong links to Ireland
According to some legends, Stonehenge was originally created in Ireland. It was only by magical forces that it came to stand on Salisbury Plain in England. October 26th marks 100 years since Sir Cecil Chubb donated Stonehenge to the nation. His gift was conditional upon people having access to it for one shilling or less per visit.
English Heritage have been celebrating the occasion with a series of special events throughout 2018, including attempts to shift a four ton megalith (heavy stone) using groups of volunteers. There will also be a new exhibition opening in October; it’s a collaborative venture with the British Museum.
Stonehenge in Ireland
According to legend, Stonehenge was originally an Irish creation. In 450AD, the Saxons and the Celts fought a bloody war on Salisbury Plain. The Saxons killed 300 native warriors. The King at this time was Aurelius Ambrosius – the legendary King Arthur’s uncle, who’d been exiled to Brittany, France.
When the King returned to England he was furious. He set fire to the enemy’s tower, rallied troops and defeated the Saxon invaders, executing their leader, Hengist. He wanted to remember the dead with a monument so he asked Merlin for help.
Merlin said there was an impressive stone circle in Ireland, called the Giant’s Round, which would make a good memorial. It was located on the mythical Mount Killaraus. However, when the King sent his men to bring the stones to England, they were unable to shift the great boulders.
So, it is said that Merlin put a spell on Stonehenge and magically transported the stones onto ships. They sailed to the English shore, and then Merlin magically put the stones into position on Salisbury Plain. When King Aurelius and his brother, Uther died, they were both buried in the centre of Stonehenge.
The legend says that giants had originally brought the stones to Mount Killaraus from Africa. The stones had healing powers, so when water was poured over them, the water became enchanted and the sick could be healed by bathing in it.
Another story says that the giants celebrated the Sabbath by dancing on Mount Killaraus, then one day they were turned into stone. So for years, people believed that Stonehenge was pertified giants, holding hands, standing in a circle.