Polotsk Stonehenge is twin to British

Scientists delve into ancient pagan sites and mysterious Borisov boulders

Scientists delve into ancient pagan sites and mysterious Borisov boulders

Polotsk is full of mysteries and stone puzzles. Zamkovaya (Castle) Hill, known as ‘Borisov stones’ is to be found near famous Sophia Cathedral. In the 12th century, Duke Boris Vseslavovich ordered that crosses be cut. He inscribed: ‘God, help your slave Boris…’ These stones are also called Dvinskie, having been discovered along the notorious Zapadnaya Dvina River, on the territory of the dukedom. A second ‘painted’ boulder is found near Druya agro-town, in the Braslav District. Others have fallen into ‘ruin’.

Scientists still debate the stones’ origin and purpose but some believe that, in making inscriptions, Duke Boris wished to transform ancient pagan relics into Christian. Others assert that he was asking God to send rain and enrich the harvest during a year of bad weather, which would explain the name of the stone — Boris-Khlebnik (Bread). Some say that Polotsk’s duke simply wanted his name to go down in history.

Tourists have little interest in such disputes, preferring simply to enjoy Polotsk’s wonderful views across the Zapadnaya Dvina. The ‘city-museum’ offers an amazing panorama from its high citadel; it’s a great spot for photography. The hedgehog-shaped boulder is also a favourite with visitors, who leave coins or banknotes in its cracks for good luck (and the bringing of wealth).  Another legend states that anyone embracing the granite ‘giant’ will receive the energy of our forefathers, becoming stronger and wiser.

Advice for tourists

It’s better to visit the Belarusian Stonehenge in autumn or spring since high grass covers the stones in summer and snow hampers a winter visit. It can be muddy, so rubber boots are recommended. To stay the night nearby, you may camp, but should remain at least 30m away from the stones, which produce radiation such as may cause headaches.


The word ‘stonehenge’ was historically used to name earthworks but was first coined by British archaeologist Thomas Kendrick to name ancient monumental stone constructions. The most famous is situated in English Wiltshire, 130km from London. There, over 30 stones (each over 4m tall) create a circle of 30m diameter, dating from about 5,000 years ago.

According to legend, Merlin (the wizard) created Stonehenge in the time of King Arthur. It is said to have been a sanctuary for druids and a tomb of pagan Queen Boadicea. In the 18th century, researchers realised that the position of the stones allowed it to be used as an observatory or, even, a station for predicting cosmic catastrophes. 

By Andrey Benkovsky

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