It is argued that Stonehenge, the greatest Neolithic monument of them all, was never finished; a “jerry-built disaster” planned but left incomplete because the culture was not capable of achieving its aspirations. The argument is based on the perception of the ruinous state of the monument we see today. Whereas the Welsh bluestones settings have suffered badly from wrecking and robbing the larger sarsen stones do not appear to have endured the same fate. Dare we suggest that this is indicative of the attraction of the bluestones? Yet an incomplete sarsen ring does not necessarily subscribe to Stonehenge as a “jerry-built” monument.
|Picture: Equinoctial Dawn at Stonehenge - (c) Jeebs 2011|
The origins of this term is uncertain but it would appear to have nothing to do with the slang term for German people or an incapable craftsman by the name of Jerry.
The term seems likely to derive from a corruption of the old nautical term "jury-rigged", meaning "assembled in a makeshift manner", which can be traced to the eighteenth century.
However, “jury rigging” should not be confused with influencing a jury, twelve good men and true, during the course of a trial in a court of law, but refers to makeshift repairs or temporary contrivances, made with the only tools and materials at hand.
The term comes from the term "jury mast", a nautical term attested since 1616 for a temporary mast made from any available spar when the mast had broken or been lost overboard. This in turn is possibly a corruption of "joury mast", from the French, "jour", a day, which would be a temporary mast used for the day, while the mainmast was away being repaired. This is turn could derive from the Old French term “ajurie” meaning "help or relief".
Was Stonehenge built of poor materials? The answer stands before us on Salisbury Plain, there would appear to be nothing temporary or makeshift about this monument – the first stone settings have stood there for nearly 5,000 years.
There is a strong counter argument that Stonehenge was purposefully left 'incomplete' as we see it, and it was never intended as a closed circle.
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