Stonehenge

The Giants' Ring

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 2012, 12:00am

Listen to me and I will tell you the tale of how one of Britain's greatest wonders came to be. Some say the origins of this place are unknown. This is not true. I know the truth, and I will tell you.

In your time, people call this place Stonehenge, but that is not its true name.

It should be called The Giants' Ring, and if you listen, you will learn the truth about this mighty stone circle that watches over the plain where it stands.

They say the place was built as a site of ancient worship, or it was a gigantic timepiece to set the months and the seasons. But it is none of these.

And who am I? My name is Merlin, and I am the greatest wizard the land of Britain has ever known. Now I am ready to begin the story of the Giants' Ring. Hold your tongues and listen.

There once was an ancient British warlord called Vortigern. He was ambitious and he had his eye on the throne.

But Vortigern was a devious coward, and instead of challenging the then king to battle, he poisoned the monarch. Then Vortigern seized the throne.

He had not been king for long, when Vortigern started to have terrible nightmares about his own death. His dreams told him that soon he would die in agony. I was a young wizard at that time, and one of the king's courtiers had heard of my ability to see into the future.

'Fetch me this boy wizard,' King Vortigern commanded. 'He will be able to see my death, and then I will prepare to escape its clutches. Bring this Merlin to my castle.'

Soldiers came to my home in the forest, and I was escorted into the presence of the king. 'Can you see my death, boy?' he hissed. 'Tell me what you see. I am not afraid!'

My mind filled with blurred images and I began to whisper.

'I see your death, my king. I feel the floor of this chamber tremble as a great army charges towards you. The old king's son, Prince Aurelius, is riding with many soldiers to claim your life and your throne. You will die in all-consuming flames.'

I did not want to see the king's reaction to my words, and using my magic, I transported myself back to my home. There I watched in my mind as soldiers attacked the castle where I had stood hours before. A blazing arrow from the sky pierced King Vortigern's armour, and he fell to the ground in a mass of fire.

Aurelius was quick to bring calm back to the land. I don't know how, but he heard about my magic, and asked me to accompany him to Salisbury Plain, the site of many past battles. The new king wanted to construct a monument to the thousands of brave soldiers who had died there. As I stood on the plain, I could feel a murmuring in the earth under my feet. I knew what the king should do.

Hundreds of years ago, giants had brought a set of mighty stones over the seas and placed them in a circle on an open plain in the nearby realm of Ireland. My magic told me that this was not the final resting place of the stone circles. They belonged to Salisbury Plain, where they would heal the land.

The king dispatched ships and an army of labourers to pull down the stones and transport them here to the Plain. The work took years, but eventually the Giants' Ring was rebuilt on Salisbury Plain.

On the next midsummer morning, the sun shone into the centre of the circle. The magic in the stones passed into the earth and the tormented souls of the soldiers who had died there were finally at rest. Listen! Can you hear the earth humming under your feet? Can you feel the magic of the Giants' Ring that still stands proudly in the middle of Salisbury Plain?

Comprehension

1 What are two of the ideas behind the existence of Stonehenge?

2 What is Stonehenge?

3 Why was Vortigern so terrified after becoming king?

4 Why did Aurelius choose Salisbury Plain as the site for a monument?

5 On which day of the year do you think people still gather at Stonehenge to see the sunrise?

Answers:

1 It is either an ancient place of worship or an ancient timepiece.

2 Stonehenge is a double circle of gigantic standing stones.

3 He had begun to have nightmares about his own death.

4 Because it was the site of many former battles.

5 Today, people gather at Stonehenge to see the sunrise on Midsummer Day.