31st December 1900 - a Stonehenge trilithon falls

Stonehenge_with_farm_carts,_c._1885.jpg On 31 Dec 1900, one of Stonehenge’s trilithon’s fell during a gale. In my favourite book about Stonehenge, Rosemary Hill writes:

An earlier, less scientific age would have read an ominous significance into the events of the dark and stormy night of 31 December 1900.

On this last day of the nineteenth century, in a howling gale, an upright in the outer sarsen circle, number 22 in Petrie’s scheme, fell. It took its lintel with it, which broke in two.

These were the first stones to fall since 1797 and they left the monument sadly depleted.

Three weeks later, at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, the old Queen died. For many of her subjects, who had known no other monarch, it was as if ‘some monstrous reversal in the course of nature’ had occurred[1]

It has been said that the falling of these stones influenced Sir Edmund Antrobus’ decision to sell Stonehenge. This may be so, but he had already been trying to sell. He had already offered Stonehenge and 1300 acres to the government for 125,000 pounds[2].

Image Credit

Wikimedia says that the photo of the cart passing the Henge is in the Public Domain - see via Wikimedia Commons


[1] Rosemary Hill, Stonehenge, page 144 Link

[2] The Heritage Action website reproduces a segment from the Wellington Evening Post, New Zealand, 14 October 1899:

Sir Edmund Antrobus is desirous of selling Stonehenge. Thinking it right that the nation should have the opportunity of purchasing this great relic of antiquity, the owner has, says the Times, offerred it to the Governmane, with about 1300 acres of surrounding land (subject to certain pasturage and sporting rights) for 125,000 pounds.

The difficulty of appraising the value of a unique monument like Stonehenge is, of course, great.

Sir Edmund Antrobus’s advisers hold that a price ought to be obtained which would bear comparison with the very large amounts which are given nowadays for works of art and other memorials of the past. The Spectator, however, conisders the price asked altogether exorbitant.

Chancellor says financial burden of protecting Stonehenge “impossible” to take on. | The Heritage Journal