Stonehenge Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is the greatest prehistoric monument in England, symbolizing mystery and power; it has attracted visitors from earliest times. It is said that the prehistoric, mysterious circle of upright stones was a temple made for the worship of ancient earth deities, yet is unclear fot what it was built for. Some researchers assume that it was an astronomical observatory for marking significant events on the prehistoric calendar. Others claim that it was a holy place for the burial of high-ranking citizens from the societies of long ago; though, for sure it was constructed for great things, for something very important to the ancients, because the effort that it took to construct Stonehenge was immense.
Although the faith of the Stonehenge builders predates any known religion, the site has become a place of pilgrimage and worship for Neopagans who identify themselves with the Druids or other forms of Celtic paganism. It is also popular with New Age devotees, who report powerful energies at the site.
Stonehenge is located in southern England. Constructions began about 5,000 years ago; the famous stones that still stand today were put in place about 4,000 years ago. The stones are aligned almost perfectly with the sunrise on the summer solstice.
The stones we see today represent Stonehenge in ruin and is the final stage that was completed about 3500 years ago. Many pieces of the building have fallen or been removed for road or home construction. Some of the smaller bluestones have been seriously damaged as a result of close visitor contact. The close visitor contact was prohibited since 1978.

Construction of the Henge
At that time, the construction of Stonehenge was an imposing engineering feat, requiring time and vast amounts of manual labor. The researchers believe the construction of Stonehenge was carried out in four main stages:
  1. The first sage - The first Stonehenge was built around 3100 BC and it was a large earthwork or Henge, comprising a ditch, bank, and the Aubrey holes. The Aubrey holes are round pits in the chalk, with steep sides and flat bottoms, about one metre wide and deep. They form a circle about 284 feet in diameter. There were excavated cremated human bones in some of the chalk filling, it is said the holes were made as part of the religious ceremony. After this stage, for over 1000 years, Stonehenge was abandoned and left untouched.
  2. The second stage - The second and most dramatic stage of Stonehenge started around 2150 BC. Some 82 bluestones were transported to the site from the Preseli mountains. These stones were dragged on rollers and sledges to the headwaters on Milford Haven and then loaded onto rafts; stones were very heavy, some of them weighing 4 tonnes. They were carried by water along the south coast of Wales and up the rivers Avon and Frome, before being dragged overland again to near Warminster in Wiltshire. The final stage of the journey was mainly by water, down the river Wylye to Salisbury, then the Salisbury Avon to west Amesbury. This astonishing journey covers nearly 240 miles. Once at the site, these stones were set up in the centre to form an incomplete double circle.
  3. Third stage - The third stage of Stonehenge was built around 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, with an extra 100 men needed to lay the huge rollers in front of the sledge. These were arranged in an outer circle with a continuous run of lintels. Inside the circle, five trilithons were placed in a horseshoe arrangement, whose remains we can still see today.
  4. The last stage - 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.
The builders
Even today it is unknown who built Stonehenge. The construction works have been attributed to many ancient peoples throughout the years, but the most captivating and enduring attribution has been to the Druids. This erroneous connection was first made around 3 centuries ago by the antiquary, John Aubrey. Julius Caesar and other Roman writers told of a Celtic priesthood who flourished around the time of their first conquest (55 BC). By this time, though, the stones had been standing for 2,000 years, and were, perhaps, already in a ruined condition. Besides, the Druids worshipped in forest temples and had no need for stone structures.
The best guess seems to be that the Stonehenge site was begun by the people of the late Neolithic period (around 3000 BC) and carried forward by people from a new economy which was arising at this time. These "new" people, called Beaker Folk because of their use of pottery drinking vessels, began to use metal implements and to live in a more communal fashion than their ancestors. Some think that they may have been immigrants from the continent, but that contention is not supported by archaeological evidence. It is likely that they were indigenous people doing the same old things in new ways.

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What to see
Stonehenge stands in a grassy field in the Wiltshire countryside; nowadays the highly atmospheric site was destroyed because of the intersection of two major highways nearby and the inevitable tourist infrastructure. But is said that Stonehenge is such a spectacular monument that it would impress no matter where it is. The astonishing scale and beauty of the stones, the great care and labor in construction, and the mystery that surrounds its original purpose are just some of the reasons Stonehenge is one of the most popular sights in England. This prehistoric monument can’t be bounded by stormy skies, a rainbow, a full moon, a fresh snowfall, or the rising sun on the summer solstice.
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