Its construction is surrounded in mystery, its purpose unknown and its site, littered with the remains of the pilgrims who came to either worship there or make a blood sacrifice. No its not the Pandorica; it’s Stonehenge.
The site in Sailsbury, Wiltshire, features in this Saturdays episode The Pandorica Opens, is one of the countryâ€™s best known landmarks and joins the likes of The Globe, The London Eye and The Houses of Parliament that have featured in New Who.
Stonehenge site director Peter Carson said:
â€œStonehenge continues to be one of the country’s most recognised historic monuments. Weâ€™re delighted to be a part of one of Britainâ€™s best-loved and most iconic TV series, and think itâ€™s a great way to introduce Stonehenge to new audiences.â€
What remains of Stonehenge is believed to be the final stage of three phases first built around 3100 BC and altogether took over thirty million hours in labour to construct.
The origins and purpose of the site are at the heart of â€˜the mystery of Stonehengeâ€™. Perhaps most famous amongst these theories are those of the Druids though archaeologists and historians are keen to stress the differences between the Iron Age Druidic religion and the much older monument.
It has also be labelled a place of worship, a healing centre and a place to honour the dead.
The site has over 800,000 visitors a year though most of them are not permitted to walk amongst the towering ruins.
Surprisingly, this is the first time that the Doctor has visited the site in the TV incarnation – however Stonehenge has made its presence felt in the Whoniverse several times over the years…
In the First Doctor adventure The Time Meddler, the Meddling Monk claimed to have assisted the completion of Stonehenge with anti-gravity lifts. While the Eighth Doctor and Sam Jones returned to the site again in the Short Trips tale The Peoples Temple.
The Seventies were a busy time for Doctor spotting at the Stone Age monument in the Novel Adventures. The Third Doctor defeated the Rags at the site in The Rags while UNIT fought the Vardens on the grounds while the Seventh Doctor was held captive by the Monk in No Future.
In 2001,Â the first Doctor Who webcastÂ Death Comes to Time featured the landmark – the Seventh Doctor tale featuring the vocal talents of Stephen Fry (Qi) John Culshaw (Dead Ringers) and the Brigadier himself Nicholas Courtney, used the site as a landing strip for the invading forces of General Tannis played by John Sessions (The Last Station.)
For more information on Stonehenge (“Where the demons dwell – Where the banshees live and they do live well”) head over to Stonehenge.co.uk.
The Pandorica Opens airs this Saturday at 18:40 simultaneously on BBC1 and BBC HD.
(Via Salisbury Journal)