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Stonehenge is one of the most
Stonehenge is one of the most
recognizable Neolithic world monuments in the world. Located in Wiltshire,
England and 13km north of Salisbury, Stonehenge is visited by over a million
visitors every year just to see the massive stones and appreciate the workings
of a huge astrological observatory. The work on the Stonehenge is believed to
predate even the Egyptian pyramids and their existence up to date is what
intrigues these visitors. The site has been a UNESCO world heritage site since
History of the
Stonehenge is said to have been built in
several stages, with the earliest henge being built about 5,000BC, the stone
circle being erected later about 2,500BC. In the early Bronze age, several
burial mounds were built near the monument (Greaney).
The site before the
The earliest known structures to have
existed on the site are four or five pits. Three of these holes appear to have
hosted large pine posts which were erected during the Mesolithic period which
was between 8,500BC and 7000BC. It is, however, unknown whether these posts
have anything to do with the later to be erected Stonehenge. The site was an
usually open place considering that most of England during this period was largely
covered by woodland which may be a possibility for the people erecting the
Stonehenge, choosing the site for the Neolithic monument complex. The complex
included the two cursus monument which were the Stonehenge and the lesser
cursus, causewayed enclosure which is at the Robin Hood’s Ball and several
other long barrows. All of these structures date back to around 3,500BC. The
existence of these monuments would be the likely influence that lead to the
location of the Stonehenge in later years. It is believed that the monument was
built in different phases at different times (Greaney).
It is generally believed that this phase
occurred around 3100BCE. The period is when the first great circular ditch of
about six feet deep was dug and a bank of dirt in it about 360 feet in diameter
with its large entrance at the northeast and the smaller on the south. The
whole combination of the ditch and the bank are called the henge. In the henge,
they were dug 56 pits known as Aubrey holes after their English discoverer John
Aubrey. He discovered them in the 17th century. The holes are slightly more
than three feet diameter. They are believed to have been filled with upright
wooden beams or upright bluestones (German).
The second phase
second phase is approximated to have occurred between 100 and 200 years later.
It involved setting up of wooden posts upright in the center of the henge, a
roofed structure and vertical posts close to the southern and northeast
entrances. During this period, the site was used as a burial site for the
community inhabiting the site. There were additional 30 pit holes dug within
the henge enclosure at this period, and twenty-five of the original ones were
emptied to hold cremation burial (German).
The third phase
The third phase of Stonehenge
construction is approximated to have happened around 400 to 500 years later
after the second phase. This is the phase that took the longest time since it
involved pulling the wooden beams or the blue stones and forming a circle. The
circle was made up of 30 massive stones which were erected within the henge.
The stones were quarried from Marlborough Downs which was nearby. The 30 erect
stones were capped with 30 other overslay stones. Each of the stones weighed
approximately 25tons, 13 feet high and about seven feet wide. The stones set up
of ten upright and five overslays weighed about 50tons each pair forming a
structure that is in the shape of a horseshoe. The bluestones freshly installed
or reinstalled were erected in the form of a circle half in the inner part of
the sarsen and half on the outer horseshoe structure. Concluding the phase was
the construction of a long processional with parallel banks which had exterior
ditches of about 34 meters across from the northeast entrance leading to the
Stonehenge and to the south up to the banks of Avon river. The last of the many
prehistoric activities to take place at the Stonehenge was digging two rings of
the concentric pits known us the Y and Z holes. There may have been intentions
of rearranging the stones, but the mission was not completed (German).
The builders and the
purpose of the Stonehenge
The builders of the Stonehenge monuments
are not known since the society did not leave any documentation or reference to
the monument. There have been numerous theories, as a result, trying to explain
the purpose of the monument. The most interesting theory is that attributing to
the Stonehenge having been built by the Druids. The disputed theory was
proposed three centuries ago by the famous antiquary, John Aubrey. This is
because Druids worshiped in forest temples and did not need stone structures.
Another theory was by Julius Caesar and other Roman writers who suggested that
there was a Celtic priesthood that flourished during this time. However, it was
told off since the evidence shows that the stones had been in existence before
these group of people. The theory that comes close to making more sense is that
of a late Neolithic society known as the Beaker Folk. The Beaker Folk society
used pottery drinking vessels but due to the rise of a new economy they began
using metal tools and started living in a communal way. Some theorists suggest
that the people migrated from other continents, but there is no archeological
evidence. Therefore, it is thought that they are the same people who lived
there since time memorial only doing things differently, in other words
Stonehenge is said to have been a burial
site this is due to the evidence found there of signs of a grave. This is like
the well-furnished Beaker graves found nearby, an example being that of
Amesbury Archer. There were also a huge number or barrows appearing to
proximity with the Stonehenge in the early bronze age. Four of the sarsen which
are part of Stonehenge were left with hundreds of markings and carvings showing
ax heads and daggers. Some archeologists interpret this as a symbol of power
within the age of Bronze society or related to some of the round barrow burials
nearby. The Stonehenge appear to have frequently been visited in the period
when Romans were ruling. Various artifacts from the Roman Empire have been
found here and in addition, a recent excavation raised speculations that the
site could have been of ritual importance to the Romano-British people
The Stonehenge is also believed to have
been a holy ground where people during the prehistorical time use to converge
in crowds. This is due to the evidence found on the ground being visited by a
large number of people over the past years.
theories that have risen in the recent past explaining the purpose of the
·The UFO Stonehenge theory which says
that the site was built by aliens who visited it from time to time
·The computer theory that explains that
the Stonehenge was similar to a computer but for the ancient times which
predicted solar system accurately by predicting when eclipses, moonset,
moonrise and so many others will happen. The monument lies at the exact latitude
where the Sun and the Moon have a maximum setting which is 90o to
each other. In addition to this, the Aubrey holes were dug so as to calculate
the 18.6-year lunar cycles and eclipses (Whitaker).
·The healing theory. According to
Wainwright and Darville, the site was used as a healing spot. The two found
evidence of bluestone chips scattered leading to them believing that people
used the pieces as a talisman to heal themselves (Cummings).
·The human sacrifice Stonehenge theory
which suggested that the site was where people use to be sacrificed to appease
the gods (Alchin).
Importance of the
The Stonehenge is a one of a kind
prehistorical site in the middle of a unique archaeological landscape. It is an
impressive megalithic monument in the world which is a rich source of
prehistory hence holds a central place in the development of archeology. The
Stonehenge is seen as the most sophisticated architectural design to be seen it
the world. With the landscape surrounding it, together they bring to light the
Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary and ceremonial practices that took place
between 3700BC and 1600 BC. The Stonehenge is a unique collection of heritage
which makes it important to the society. The design of the stones is an
evidence of a society that was wealthy and highly organized during the
prehistorical period hence imposing its concepts to the surrounding. One of
this designs was seen at the parallel processional avenue where they created it
with exterior ditches making it a unique and sophisticated architectural design
The Stonehenge is one of the largest cremation
and cemetery grounds known in the Neolithic Britain. The design of the monument
sheds light to the complex and exceptional insight to the ceremony and funeral
practices in Britain during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. There was
evidence of astronomical character and ceremonies with the design of the site
in such a way that the Stonehenge circle was on the axis of the midwinter and
midsummer sunset. The site also provided a profound insight into the changing
mortuary culture as there was evidence of cremation on the site. The evidence
was proved by the biggest known Neolithic stone-chambered collective tomb in
the regions of South England and other burial site showing evolving funeral
The Stonehenge is not of much importance
when it is alone therefore the landscape comes in as well. With the
preservation of the surrounding landscape to the Stonehenge, the landscape
forms a remarkable ancient environment of the Neolithic and early Bronze Age.
The ground offers archeologists a chance to study the ancient period with the
over 350 burial mounds. The information is helpful to understand more of the
society that lived in the locality during the prehistorical period. It is also
a resource for understanding the organization of the societies and their
regional and international connections from the 4th to the 2nd millennia BC
Stonehenge has been in the discussion
regarding what it was used for by the people who build it. Various theories
have emerged regarding this issue some of which say that it was a place where
ancestors were being worshiped. Other theories explain that it was lace for the
Danish king, an astronomical point for predicting solar and eclipses events and
other say it was a Druid temple. Although there have been all these
explanations of the purpose of this monument, it has generally been accepted
that the site was a prehistorical temple. It is where the ancient societies
used to perform their rituals (Greaney).
The Stonehenge is also important because
it is an indicator of the past and powerful image of the ancient achievements.
The site has continued to be the subject of many paintings. It is also featured
in books, music and in film production like in one of the episodes of the T.V
program The Librarians. Although many of these are depicted in various mythical
aspect, the Stonehenge is an important part that its presence cannot be assumed
The site also continues to play the role
of a sacred place in the society. Thousands of visitors are attracted to the
site and continue to be humbled and awed by the presence of the magnificent
man-made monument that has surpassed time and continues to stand for all these
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