Stonehenge History

Stonehenge History: The Mysterious Origins Of Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the most famous and mysterious ancient monuments that have not ceased to fascinate people till today. Located in Salisbury Plain in England, the prehistoric stone circle monument comprises a ring of standing stones each of which goes up to a height of about 13 feet, 7 feet in width, and weighs around 25 tons. The arrangement of the Stonehenge stones is quite interesting and intriguing with some stones standing upright and others lying horizontally on top of them in an overall circular pattern. According to the history of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument was in several phases over a period of around 1,500 years, from around 3000 BC to 1600 BC.

The first phase went back around 5000 years and involved the construction of a circular ditch and bank. This was followed by the second phase which saw the erection of a series of wooden posts that were later replaced by the standing stones that we see today. The precise reason behind the construction of Stonehenge continues to remain a mystery although there are several theories put forward by historians. While some suggest it was a burial site, others believe it to be a site for religious or astronomical rituals. Many others opine that Stonehenge may have been used as a calendar, with the stones aligned to mark important astronomical events such as the summer and winter solstices.

Before Stonehenge

It is believed that the very first structures in the area comprise about four or five pits, of which three show evidence of having held tall pole-like posts. It has been suggested that these were erected here during the Mesolithic period between 8500-7000 BC. It is, however, not clear in the history of Stonehenge whether these structures are in any way related to the later rock pieces or not. Historians are of the opinion that much of the area where Stonehenge is was a barren landscape as opposed to the rest of southern England which was covered with woods at the time. 

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The Earliest Monument

The history of Stonehenge suggests that its first components comprised structures like the Heel Stone and the North Barrow which is more of a low mound. Among the earliest known major constructions, however, was a round ditch with an inner and outer bank and about 56 pits inside. These were built around 3000 BC and are known as the Aubrey Holes. This resembled an early form of a henge monument that had two entrances as well. The purpose of the Aubrey Holes however has been a source of debate for many years with the majority opinion stating that they used to hold the timber poles. Evidence also suggests that Stonehenge had been the largest Neolithic cemetery in the British Isles.

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The Stone Settings

The stone settings of this ancient monument comprise a big part of Stonehenge history and are also among its most distinctive features. The stones are classified into two main types: sarsens, which were the larger rocks and bluestones, which were the smaller ones. The sarsen circles were set up in two concentric circles, the inner formation was in the shape of a horseshoe and the outer in the form of a circle. However, the bluestones were arranged within and around the sarsen circle in the form of a double arc.

After Stonehenge Was Bulit

Once Stonehenge was built, the people from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages went on using the site for a variety of purposes, both ceremonial and ritualistic. The history of Stonehenge also reveals that the site was used as a gathering place for important religious and social events, including burials, marriages, and other rites of passage. With the passage of time, there were a number of modifications brought to the monument. For instance, the bluestones were rearranged more than once, and later several other additional stones were brought in. While some of these newer stones were placed in holes dug in the ground, others were hoisted up in various formations.

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Later History

According to the later Stonehenge history, the site continued to hold on to its importance for centuries to come. Around 700 BC, during the Iron Age, the location shows evidence of visits by pilgrims who came to pay respects to the dead buried here. In later years, Stonehenge was mentioned in different works, particularly during the period when Britain was occupied by the Romans. Many Roman objects have been found there according to recent excavations and later on, during the Middle Ages the site sprang up as a place of cultural and spiritual significance. 

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Stonehenge In The 20th And 21st Centuries

According to the history about Stonehenge, around the late 19th and early 20th century, massive tracts of land in and around the area of Stonehenge were taken in for military activities. The site saw the coming up of barracks, airfields, firing ranges, field hospitals, and light railways during the First World War. While some of them have been demolished, several such as the Larkhill airfield sheds, still stand. There have also been a lot of efforts in recent decades in the protection and preservation of the site such as the creation of a protective barrier around the stones. 

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How many years did it take to build Stonehenge?

The construction of Stonehenge went on for several centuries and took almost 1,500 years to complete. According to Stonehenge history, the site was not built all at once by its creators but was toiled over for several years between the period 3,000 B.C and 1,500 B.C. 

Why is Stonehenge so famous?

Stonehenge has been classified as a World Heritage Site and is viewed as one of the most sophisticated prehistoric stone circles in the world. It is known for its architectural wonder and the rich history of Stonehenge gives an insight into the cultural and religious life of the ancient people. It also helps to understand the ceremonial and mortuary practices of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

Who built Stonehenge?

According to the history of Stonehenge, it is still not clear who built the monument as many different groups have been known to transport massive blocks of stones to build and modify it. Archaeological evidence states that it was the early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who made the first major modification of the site. 

What is Stonehenge made of?

Stonehenge is made of two types of stones – the sarsen stones which are larger in size and the smaller bluestones. The sarsen stones are a type of silcrete rock, which is typically found across the whole of southern England. Each of these stones weighs around 20 tons and stands almost 7 meters tall. 

How much time do you need to explore Stonehenge?

You will need about 2.5 hours to explore Stonehenge in its entirety including the Stone Circle and the wider National Trust landscape. You can walk up to and among each of the stones, learn about its fascinating history, and click photographs with it in the background for keepsakes. 

Why was Stonehenge built?

Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain in England, remains an enigma despite its historical significance. You'll find it intriguing how these massive stones, some weighing around 25 tons, were meticulously arranged. Although built over 1,500 years starting around 3000 BC, some suggest it was a burial site, while others suggest religious or astronomical significance. The alignment with astronomical events, like solstices, hints at its use as a celestial calendar, illustrating our ancestors' deep connection with the cosmos.

How many stones are in Stonehenge?

Stonehenge, the iconic prehistoric monument in England, captivates with its ancient stones standing tall. You'll spot 52 Sarsen stones here, including the large stone 56, weighing around 30 metric tonnes. Stone 96, known as the Heel Stone, marks the summer solstice sunrise. Among them, six lintels remain of the outer Sarsen circle, connected ingeniously with mortise and tenon joints. Two station stones remain, out of the original four, creating a rectangle around the monument. Other stones here include the Slaughter Stone, all of which silently narrate millennia of history.


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