The Georgia Guidestones: A Monumental Mystery

By: Jesslyn Shields & Diana Brown  | 
GA guidestones
The Georgia Guidestones, a monument made of granite slabs, also known as the "American Stonehenge," seen here April 2, 2018, in Elberton, GA, before it was destroyed in July 2022. The inscriptions are of 10 principles in eight different languages. William Howard/Shutterstock

Just northeast of Atlanta is the small town of Elberton, Georgia — the self-proclaimed "Granite Capital of the World." For over four decades the Georgia Guidestones, a huge granite monument some called "America's Stonehenge," sat at Elbert County's highest point, in perpetual balance, in an old cow pasture. The history surrounding the Guidestones is shrouded in secrecy, and from the very day of its unveiling, conspiracy theorists have tried to find both the meaning behind the monument and the mystery man who commissioned it and paid for its construction.


When and Why Were the Georgia Guidestones Built?

The Guidestones was custom-built in 1979 for a man who called himself "Robert C. Christian." Christian claimed to represent a group of "loyal Americans" who had been working on the designs and specifications for 20 years. Christian hired Joe Fendley of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company to build the Georgia monument, and worked with Elberton banker Wyatt C. Martin to handle the finances. Both Martin and Fendley — the only locals ever to meet Christian in person — were sworn to secrecy about his true identity, and to this day have never broken that vow and disclosed the creator of America's Stonehenge.

Although this granite monument was destroyed in 2022 (more on that later), it included four vertical slabs arranged around a fifth center stone, finished off with a horizontal capstone, all in perpetual balance. The slabs acted as a sundial, calendar and clock. When the piece was unveiled, local pastors immediately decried it as the work of Satan.


The Georgia Guidestones Always Spawned Conspiracy Theories

From the beginning, the Georgia Guidestones was a lightning rod for conspiracy theories, including claims that Christian was actually Ted Turner and that the Illuminati commissioned it. The pseudonym R.C. Christian also has been said to reference the Rosicrucians, or Order of the Rosy Cross, a secret society that stresses reason and harmony with nature. The monument was defaced with spray paint on a couple of occasions before security cameras were installed, but maybe the strangest injury to the reputation of the Guidestones came in 2022 when a candidate in the 2022 Georgia Republican governor's primary called the Guidestones "Satanic" in a campaign ad, and called for their removal.

The Georgia Guidestones monument was controversial for its mysterious origins, certainly — was it some sort of astronomical calendar? — but the inscriptions on the granite monument made some people nervous. The monument got its name from the capstone, on which "Let These Be Guidestones to an Age of Reason" was etched in ancient languages like Babylonian cuneiform — one of the earliest systems of writing. On each of the vertical granite slabs, 10 precepts, or "guides," were inscribed in eight different languages, including English, Swahili, Russian and Arabic. They said things like "Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts," "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000," "Balance personal rights with social duties" and "Be not a cancer on the Earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature."


The Unsolved Bombing of the Georgia Guidestones

Seems reasonable enough. But still, the Georgia Guidestones monument didn't sit well with some apparently, because an early morning attack on the site July 6, 2022, with an explosive device destroyed much of the capstone, rendering the site so unstable that it was dismantled later that day.

Elberton Mayor Daniel Graves had this to say: "My initial reaction was heartbreak and anger, frustration," Graves said. "And I think that's consistent with the community's reaction."


A surveillance video released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation showed a car fleeing the scene after the explosion. No suspects have been named in the case, and no motive for bombing the monument is known. As of this writing, the Georgia Guidestones monument remains permanently closed. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation continues the search for the perpetrator.