is a megalithic edifice located near Amesbury on England’s Salisbury
Plain. The structure is composed of a series of large stones arranged
in a circular pattern surrounded by an inner bank and shallow ditch.
The site itself is listed with UNESCO and is a national legally
protected Scheduled Ancient Monument managed by English Heritage. 
asked are: What was Stonehenge, who built it and when?
legend says Merlin (at the behest of Aurelius Ambrosius) directed its
removal from Ireland where it had originally been located, giants
having constructed it with healing stones brought from Africa. When
15,000 knights failed to accomplish the task by conventional means, the
wizard supposedly cast a spell making the rocks as light as a feather
before transporting them to Britain himself.
a second legend, Hengist, an invading Saxon king, had the stones
erected in atonement for a treacherous deed, whereby he had ordered his
men to fall on Brythonic warriors invited to a feast and slaughter
the years mainstream history has attributed construction of the
monument (mistakenly) to the Saxons, Vikings, Romans and others, the
most popular belief, still prevelant, that it was a pagan temple
erected by the Druids (in actual fact the Celts are relative newcomers
to Britain and though their holy men may have used Stonehenge in their
rituals the origins of the structure would have been far more of a
mystery to them than it is to us).
however, the mists are clearing, modern archaeological techniques
providing us with a more accurate insight into the monument's past,
careful analysis of the findings revealing its secrets, carbon dating
revealing its age. It appears that Stonehenge was not built all at once
but was instead completed in a series of changes, modifications and
additions that took place over many centuries.
its earliest phase dated approximately 3100 BCE the monument was just a
circular bank and ditch with a diameter of approximately 360 feet (110
meters) and two entrances, the larger located to the northeast the
smaller to the south. Apparently the ditch was used as a storage area
for the bones of deer, oxen and various flint tools, while the outer
edge of the enclosed area was punctuated by 56 pits, each
meter (3 feet) wide, known as the Aubrey Holes (after their discoverer)
their original intent unknown.
second phase is dated from approximately 3000 BCE and extrapolating
from the large number of post holes it would seem some sort of wooden
structure was erected within the enclosure. It also appears that at
this time Stonehenge was used as a cremation cemetery, a number of the
Aubrey Holes and the ditch functioning as a repository for cremated
indicates that stone replaced timber around 2600 BCE and that holes
were dug in the center area to hold bluestones brought from the
Prescelly Mountains (Preseli Hills) of Wales. A huge block of green
sandstone from the Brecon Beacons became known as the Alter Stone.
Other modifications included a widening of the north-eastern entrance
in order to make it line up precisely with the sunrise of midsummer and
sunset of midwinter. For some reason the bluestones were then removed
and the holes filled in. A pair of parallel ditches connecting with the
River Avon was added as were the Heelstone and Station Stones.
period of major activity began around 2450 BCE, thirty sarsen stones
were erected each weighing about 25 tons; it must have been an enormous
undertaking and perhaps that's why the circle which would have required
74 stones to complete was never finished. Within this partially
completed circle stood five trilithons of dressed sarsen stone arranged
in a horseshoe shape. The stones, ten uprights and five lintels, weigh
up to 50 tons each. The bluestones were re-erected then rearranged as a
circle between the sarsens and as an oval in the center, a section of
which was later removed those that remained forming a horseshoe shape
similar to the central trilithons. With these actions the last phase of
major construction came to an end. The last known construction at
Stonehenge took place around 1600 BCE, its last usage during Britain's
Iron Age (which ended [in the south] with the Roman conquest).
appears to have been used for different things at different times: a
place of worship, a cemetery, crematorium, observatory, calendar and
some sources even claim a UFO landing site. The mysterious edifice
seems to have been in a constant state of flux changing to meet the
needs of successive generations. Perhaps the builders themselves were
unsure of what it was they had built or what it was they wanted it to
be. In truth the mystery may be, not what was Stonehenge but why was
In an effort to curtail graffiti and other forms of vandalism the site
is surrounded by both an outer perimeter fence and an inner rope
barrier (concessions regarding less restricted access are made for
special occasions and at certain times of the year).
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