Stonehenge: a monument to heathenism?

Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity, Alexandra Walsham, will give the second Women of Trinity Lecture, on 1 May 2018, which delves into the ideological battleground over landscape during and after the English Civil Wars of the seventeenth century.

Central to her detective investigation is the colourful character of Hugh Peter, chaplain and close associate of Cromwell. In her lecture, ‘The Destruction of Stonehenge: Iconoclasm, Reputation and Memory,’ Professor Walsham examines the allegation that in July 1645, Peter (who happens to be a Trinity alumnus) urged the Parliamentary General Sir Thomas Fairfax to destroy Stonehenge as one of the ‘monuments of heathenism’.


She said: ‘I will explore the overlapping contexts in which this episode must be set and seek to augment recent work on the complex relationship between remembering and forgetting during and after the English Civil Wars. The physical landscape became an ideological battleground in which competing perceptions of the past were played out. The lecture analyses how gossip, laughter, malice and zeal fused in the drive to find scapegoats and to blacken reputations.

My lecture seeks to illuminate the long and divisive, but also fertile legacies that the ‘late troubles’ bequeathed to subsequent generations. Finally, it offers some critical reflections on historical method itself.’


Professor Walsham became Professor of Modern History at Cambridge in 2010, the first woman to have held this Chair since its foundation. She holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2015-18 for her work on ‘The Reformation of the Generations: Age, Ancestry and Memory in England c. 1500-1700.’ She is also the Principal Investigator on a major collaborative project based jointly at the Universities of Cambridge and York on ‘Remembering the Reformation’.

You can reserve a free place at Professor Walsham’s lecture, The Destruction of Stonehenge: Iconoclasm, Reputation and Memory which takes place 6pm, Tuesday 1 May 2018, in the Winstanley Lecture Hall at Trinity.

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