Thursday, 3 April 2008

A blog's not just for Christmas

As an author who took fifteen years to produce my first book -God's architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain- I don't feel I'm a natural blogger. My first thoughts are rarely my best. Neither am I good with pot plants and one thing we've learned today is that a blog is rather like a spider plant -it requires regular care and attention -neglected it will dry out and die. I also think -from observation- this is something we haven't been told- that a blog can be over fed causing it to grow rapidly to grotesque proportions before collapsing suddenly under its own weight.

However my publishers have touching faith in my abilities to blog and have sent me on this course (free) so I feel that I should repay them by making an effort.

My next book -out this summer in time for the solstice- is about Stonehenge. It took just over a year to write. It's much easier I now realise to write a short book on a large subject than a large book on a small one. It's not a book about what Stonehenge was -nobody knows that- it's about what it is -and what it has been. The theories of archaeologists take up part of the story but the stones have also been a source of inspiration to poets, they were useful to Darwin in his study of earthworms, they lie behind two revolutions in town planning and they were the ancient ancestors of the modern traffic roundabout. Did you know that the shopping centre at Milton Keynes is aligned on the solstice in tribute to it?

Just this week the archaeologists have started digging at Stonehenge again confident that they will be able to prove that the circle was originally a spa -that the stones had healing properties and people bathed in water poured over them. This is not a new theory. It was first suggested in the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey also said that the stones were brought from Ireland magically by Merlin -so some of his ideas have worn better than others. The main rival theory at the moment is that the site was a cemetery. Why not both? If you got better you went home and if the healing stones didn't work they buried you on site.