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Stonehenge

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Stonehenge.
Stonehenge is located in the south-west of England.
Plan of Stonehenge in 2004. Trilithon lintels omitted for clarity. Holes that no longer, or never, contained stones are shown as open circles. Stones visible today are shown coloured

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument 3.2 kilometres north of Salisbury in England in the south-west of the United Kingdom. Stonehenge has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.[1] It is made of standing stones in circles.

It was built in three main phases, each between about 3100 BC and 1950 BC. The first circle, ~3000 BC, was made of timber. The post holes for the timber have been found. Around 2600 BC, the builders gave up timber in favour of stone. Most of the construction took place between 2640 and 2480 BC.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

The first stone circle was a set of 'bluestones'. The holes held up to 80 standing stones (shown blue on the plan), only 43 of which can be traced today. The bluestones (made of a rock called dolerite), were thought for much of the 20th century to have been brought from the Preseli Hills, 260 kilometres away in modern-day Pembrokeshire, Wales. Another theory is that they were brought much nearer to the site as glacial erratics by a glacier.[3]

Later, ~2400 BC, 30 huge grey sarsen stones were brought to the site. They were erected in a circle 33 metres in diameter, with lintels on top of the standing stones. The remaining blue circles were placed as an inner circle. The site was in use until the Bronze Age. The modern Stonehenge consists entirely of original stones, some of which have been replaced in upright position.

There are also several passage tombs and many tumuli nearby.

Summer Solstice: visitors are not usually allowed this close!

No one knows exactly who built Stonehenge or why they built it. During the summer solstice, the sunrise lines up with some of the stones in a particular way. This suggests that the arrangement of stones may work as a calendar. In Egypt and South America, similar ancient buildings can be found. They also show the time of the solstice.

Stonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.[4][5]

The World Heritage Site includes Avebury and Stonhenge together, though they are quite distinct sites. Stonehenge, however, does have a number of satellite structures which are part of the 'ritual landscape':

  • Bluehenge or Bluestonehenge: a new discovery, one mile to the southeast.
  • Durrington Walls: a Neolithic settlement two miles northeast of Stonehenge.
  • Normanton Down Barrows: a Neolithic and Bronze Age barrow cemetery.
  • Stonehenge Avenue: leads three kilometres from Stonehenge to Bluestonehenge on the River Avon.
  • Stonehenge Cursus: the largest monument in the area, not easily visible on the ground.
  • Woodhenge: found in 1925 by an aerial survey. It had a henge and a wooden circle.

Related pages[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Malone, Caroline. 2005. Neolithic Britain and Ireland. Tempus, Stroud, Gloucestershire.


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