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Astronomical calculator? Spaceship landing pad? Shrine to the Earth Mother? An exhibition at the British Museum uses the latest research to look past outlandish theories.

Some believe it to be an astronomical calculator, an observatory that helped demarcate the seasons. Others view Stonehenge as a place of healing, a kind of prehistoric Lourdes, which hosted hordes of pilgrims. In the 1960s and ’70s, the site was thought to be imbued with magical and mystical powers, and it became a hot spot for hippies and open-air festivals. Today, it’s a focal point of New Age counterculture and environmental activism.

As the archaeologist and writer Jacquetta Hawkes famously observed in 1967, “Every age has the Stonehenge it deserves — or desires.”

Hawkes’s words are reproduced on a wall text inside a new exhibition at the British Museum, “The World of Stonehenge,” which runs through July 17. The show strives to lessen the mystery around the monument by focusing on recent discoveries and putting them in the context of life in Britain, Ireland and northwestern Europe before, during and after Stonehenge’s construction.