Local author sheds light on Stonehenge

Last year, a local author lofted a new hypothesis on the purpose behind Stonehenge, one of the most-studied landscapes in the United Kingdom. Next week, Paul Burley will fly to England to give another round of presentations on his book "Stoneheng...

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The sun shines through the stone circle at Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. Superior author Paul Burley provides a new perspective on the sacred landscape in his book, “Stonehenge: As Above, So Below.”

Last year, a local author lofted a new hypothesis on the purpose behind Stonehenge, one of the most-studied landscapes in the United Kingdom.

Next week, Paul Burley will fly to England to give another round of presentations on his book "Stonehenge: As Above, So Below," which proposes that the structures on Salisbury Plain, the earliest of which were built about 5,000 years ago, are a star map of constellations imprinted on the earth.

"The idea crosses a lot of boundaries," said Howard Mooers, head of University of Minnesota Duluth’s department of earth and environmental sciences. "It covers a lot of ground."

Burley, a 1976 Superior Senior High School graduate, drew from diverse disciplines and focused on scientific evidence to form his hypothesis. That holistic approach is new and intriguing, said Kari Hagstrom, who coordinated a lecture by Burley through the Elbow Lake Arts Advisory Council in Minnesota.

"I think Paul is definitely on to something," Hagstrom said. "With his insights gained from multiple disciplines and perspectives, he seems to have been the right person at the right time to put this information and these pieces of the puzzle together."


Right now, the hypothesis is just that.

"Is he right? I don’t know," Mooers said. "Is it a clever idea? Yes, and it’s one that makes sense."

Backed by 30 years of experience as an engineer and environmental geologist, Burley dug deep into Stonehenge after completing his first book, "The Sacred Sphere," in 2012. He originally looked at the inner circle as a sacred sphere, then turned his attention to the rest of the landscape. As he examined the spatial relationships between the structures of Stonehenge, Burley discovered an earthbound recreation of the heavens, including the constellation Orion and other stars in the winter hexagon. That area of the sky, bright and clearly visible during the long winter months, was seen by many Neolithic cultures as the "womb of the cosmos," the source of the spirit. Burley surmises that one of the oldest structures at the sight, the 1.7-mile long Greater Cursus of Stonehenge, represents the spirit path for the soul’s return to that source of life in the cosmos.

"Paul’s ideas on Stonehenge are completely in line with other stellar alignments in Europe, the middle east and north Africa at this time," Mooers said.

And it proposes a meaning behind the monument.

"Stonehenge is not about death; Stonehenge is about life," Burley said.

The author launched a series of presentations in the United Kingdom last year to tout his idea. Lyz Harvey of Stourbridge, UK, author of "The Ripples and Tapestries," set up an event after reading Burley’s book.

"I realized he was providing a convincing ‘missing link’ between legendary beliefs and the provable cosmic connection. I had to book him for a presentation at ‘Open Minds,’ a group I started eight years ago," Harvey said. "What would they make of him? How would an American fare, putting forward theories about our most notable English monument?


"They were spellbound."

Harvey said Burley’s "outside the box" thinking, wide-ranging knowledge and enthusiasm hooked the crowd, and he later took many of them on a guided tour of Stonehenge.

"It’s a really interesting idea he proposed," Mooers said, and it makes sense with what was going on at the time. "It all fits … I think it’s something that will gain traction rather quickly."

During his coming round of presentations, Burley hopes to connect not just with readers but archaeologists in the UK. His goal is to get his information, and new perspective, out to the scientific community. That could prove a challenge.

"I find him really insightful," Mooers said. "He’s extremely knowledgeable; what he doesn’t have are the credentials." Without a doctorate degree, Mooers expects Burley will meet resistance because he may not be considered an expert.

Mooers was initially skeptical when he began reading the book. When he got to the "punch line," the professor found it to be the most significant thing he’d ever heard about Stonehenge "because this one makes sense."

Burley made the leap from successful engineer to struggling author in his early 50s, backed by a deep conviction.

"This is where my heart is," Burley said, and he believes he’s contributing to something larger and more important than himself. "I’ve been struggling for years, but I’m so happy with what I do."


More information on Burley and his book can be found online at or on Facebook under Paul Burley or Stonehenge – As Above, So Below. The book can be purchased locally at Globe News in Superior or through online sights and

Related Topics: BOOKS
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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