Stonehenge is not a unique structure within Great Britain, more than 900 stone circles have been located in the British Isles; however Stonehenge is the largest and most well-known. Whilst it is not fully understood how and why this henge was important for ancient people, it is obvious that the site was relevant and for thousands of years it was built, modified, utilised and honoured.
A legend from the 12th century claimed giants placed the monument on a mountain in Ireland, before a wizard named Merlin magically moved the stone circle to England.
Stonehenge is arguably one of the most famous megalithic monuments in the world. It's also one of the most mysterious, with its prehistoric concentric rings garnering plenty of speculation as to why and how they were constructed.
The site went through various transformations and didn’t begin as a ring of stones. The circular earth bank and ditch that surrounds the stones can be dated back to about 3100 BC, while the first stones are believed to have been raised at the site between 2400 and 2200 BC.
Stonehenge is an enigmatic prehistoric monument located on a chalky plain north of the modern day city of Salisbury, England. It was started 5,000 years ago and modified by ancient Britons over a period of 1,000 years. Its purpose continues to be a mystery.
Over the next few hundred years, the stones were rearranged and new ones added, with the formation we know today being created between 1930 and 1600 BC.
The henge stones appear to mark and accentuate important stages of the year such as the passing of seasons and particular sunrises and sunsets. This has led many experts to surmise the site was a religious or spiritual landmark used as an astrological observatory. It is believed that Stonehenge also sits proudly on the most prominent Ley line in Britain.
In 2013, a team of archaeologists excavated the cremated remains of 50,000 bones at the site, belonging to 63 men, women and children. These bones date back as early as 3000 BC, though some are only dated back to 2500 BC. This suggests that Stonehenge may have been a burial ground at the start of its history, though it is not clear if that was the site’s primary purpose.
Although construction of Stonehenge began about 5,000 years ago, the area appears to have been of symbolic importance for a much longer period of time.
Some of the stones were brought from nearly 200 miles away.
Throughout English history people have promoted differing theories as to who constructed Stonehenge. These range from the magician Merlin, through to Celtic Druids and local shepherds and even alien visitors!
The monument’s stones possess unusual acoustic properties – when struck they produce a loud clanging sound – which likely explains why someone bothered to transport them over such a long distance. In certain ancient cultures, such rocks are believed to contain healing powers. In fact, Maenclochog mean “ringing rock”.
As early as 10,500 years ago three large pine posts, which were totem poles of sorts, were erected at the site. Then around 5,500 years ago two earthworks known as Cursus monuments were erected, the longest of which ran for 1.8 miles (3 km). The purpose of these structures is unknown.
The body of a decapitated man was excavated from the site. The 7th century Saxon man was found in 1923.