Stonehenge , located in the English county of Wiltshire , England , is a prehistoric monument and one of the most famous sites in the world. Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. It is at the center of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments , including more than 350 burial mounds.
Stonehenge is probably the most important prehistoric monument in Britain and has attracted visitors from earliest times. It stands as a timeless monument to the people who built it. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO‘s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury Henge monument. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage, while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.
The Stonehenge that we see today is the final stage that was completed about 3500 years ago, but it is believed that it was buit starting 5000 years ago in 4 stages.
The first Stonehenge was a large earthwork or Henge, comprising a ditch, bank, and the Aubrey holes, all probably built around 3100 BC.
The second and most dramatic stage of Stonehenge started around 2150 BC. Some 82 bluestones from the Preseli mountains, in south-west Wales were transported to the site. It is thought these stones, some weighing 4 tonnes each were dragged on rollers and sledges to the headwaters on Milford Haven and then loaded onto rafts.
The third stage of Stonehenge, about 2000 BC, saw the arrival of the Sarsen stones, which were almost certainly brought from the Marlborough Downs near Avebury, in north Wiltshire, about 25 miles north of Stonehenge. The largest of the Sarsen stones transported to Stonehenge weigh 50 tonnes and transportation by water would have been impossible, the stones could only have been moved using sledges and ropes. Modern calculations show that it would have taken 500 men using leather ropes to pull one stone.
The final stage took place soon after 1500 BC when the bluestones were rearranged in the horseshoe and circle that we see today. The original number of stones in the bluestone circle was probably around 60, these have long since been removed or broken up. Some remain only as stumps below ground level.
Mystery of Stonehenge
The true meaning of this ancient, incredible construction has been lost in the mists of time . How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones from so far away and then, using only the most primitive of tools, build this amazing structure? Was it a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to amaze .
Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The dating of cremated remains found on the site indicate burials from as early as 3000 BC, when the initial ditch and bank were first dug. Burials continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years.
Stonehenge was produced by a culture that left no written records. Many aspects of Stonehenge remain subject to debate. This multiplicity of theories, some of them very colorful, is often called the “mystery of Stonehenge”.
There is little or no direct evidence for the construction techniques used by the Stonehenge builders. Various authors have suggested that supernatural methods were used, usually asserting that the stones were impossible to move otherwise. However , it’s demonstrated that conventional techniques using Neolithic technology can be effective to move and place stones of a similar size.
- Age estimated- 3100 BC
- Location – Wiltshire, UK
- Type of stone -Bluestone, Sarson, Welsh Sandstone
- Worship- Lunar, Solar
- Access – there is a charge to visit the stones
- Visitor Info- visitors are unable to walk amongst the stones