Discover the magic of Stonehenge, arguably the most famous prehistoric site in the world
If you love ancient architecture and historic sites, you must visit Stonehenge – one of the most famous and mysterious constructions on our planet. Located on Salisbury Plains in the English countryside, 137 km southwest of London, Stonehenge dates back to prehistoric times. Researchers remain unsure of its original purpose.
Each standing stone is around 4.1 metres high, 2.1 metres wide and weighs around 25 tons. The two heaviest stones weigh up to 50 tons. Researchers believe the stones in the central cluster were brought to the site around 2,500 BC. They are of two types – the larger sarsens and the smaller bluestones. The sarsens were erected in two concentric arrangements. The inner one is a horseshoe of five trilithons (two vertical stones capped by a horizontal lintel). Of these, three complete trilithons still stand. One fell in 1797 and was re-erected in 1958, and two are partially fallen. Near the centre is the Altar Stone, which is mostly buried beneath the fallen stone of the tallest trilithon. Around the horseshoe are the remains of the outer sarsen circle, capped with lintels. There were probably once 30 stones in this circle, but many have fallen. Most of the lintels and a few uprights are missing from the site.
One of the most famous theories about Stonehenge is that it was actually a big, ancient calendar designed to keep track of time and important astronomical events. Due to the large number of sometimes burned skeletal remains found on site, Stonehenge has long been viewed as a burial ground, sacrificial temple, or possibly a crematorium. It was probably associated with death.
Stonehenge evolved in several construction phases spanning at least 1,500 years. There is evidence of large-scale construction on and around the monument that perhaps extends this time frame to 6,500 years. The layout must once have been complex and beautiful. Since many stones are missing, it’s hard to guess the site’s original form.
How did prehistoric builders without sophisticated tools or engineering knowledge construct Stonehenge? How did they transport the huge stones from the mountains that lie 200 km away? And how did they dig the holes and shape sarsens to be fitted with lintels? These questions have baffled scholars and intrigued visitors for centuries.
In 1986 Stonehenge was added to UNESCO’s register of World Heritage sites in a co-listing with the stone circle of Avebury. These magical place houses its own enormous secrets.
Gazing upon Stonehenge, it’s impossible not to be caught up by the myths and theories swirling around this ancient site.