Physicist and astronomer with an interest in explaining the purpose of Stonehenge. Born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, he obtained a degree in physics from Nottingham University in 1949, a Ph.D. in radio astronomy from Manchester University in 1952, and a D.Sc. from the same institution in 1963 for his astronomical research at the Harvard–Smithsonian Observatories. In 1957 he became Professor of Astronomy at Boston University, and from 1969 was Dean of Liberal Arts at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. As well as being a science advisor to the US Information Agency he was a member of Washington DC's Cosmos Club and received awards from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences. In 1963 he published the first results of a study of Stonehenge in Nature. Using what was then the very latest computer (an IBM 704), he showed to his own satisfaction that Stonehenge was a Neolithic computer‐observatory for predicting eclipses of the sun and moon, a theme he developed more fully in Stonehenge decoded (1965, London: Souvenir Press). It was a view not everyone shared, and, in opening a review of Hawkins's work, Jacquetta Hawkes famously remarked that ‘Every age has the Stonehenge it deserves—or desires’ (Antiquity, 41 (1967), 174).
The Guardian, 24 July 2003