Stonehenge Facts: Discover the Mysterious Prehistoric Monument
The prehistoric stone circle is one of the oldest manmade structures in the world. It is still a mystery as to why this circular arrangement of huge stones was made in the first place. However, it serves as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe. The Stonehenge is older than the Pyramids of Egypt.
Although it is not certain as to when the construction of the Stonehenge started, archaeologists have made strong claims over the years that it began around 3000 BC and the last modification was made around 1500 BC with the rearrangement of bluestones and the digging of additional holes.
The circular structure is made of two different kinds of stones. The megaliths are Sarsen, which is a sandstone that is common in the region. The Sarsen stones are believed to have come from the Marlborough Downs, around 30 miles away. The smaller stones are called bluestones due to the slight bluish tint when they are wet. These are believed to have been transported around 150 miles to reach Wiltshire from Maenclochog, Wales.
In 1985, a group of more than 600 new age travellers were en route to celebrate Stonehenge Free Festival. However, their convoy was stopped 7 miles before the landmark by a contingent of 1300 policemen. The confrontation turned violent and went on for several hours before 537 travellers were arrested in one of the biggest mass arrests of civilians in the history of England.
The historic monument may have been erect for thousands of years, but it has not lost its acoustic properties which makes it even more spectacular. When struck, the stones produce a loud clanging sound. It is believed that the sound from these stones was considered to have healing properties in ancient cultures.
Stonehenge has been created in such a way that it is aligned with the summer solstice’s sunrise and the winter solstice’s sunset. Considering the age of the monument, it would have been a great architectural feat during the time it was built.
The tongue and groove joints used to secure the lintels (the horizontal stones that lie atop the vertical sarsens) are usually found only in woodworking.
The historic structure is surrounded by a ring of 56 pits inside the bank and ditch called Aubrey Holes. The ditch was named after John Aubrey, a 17th-century antiquarian.
Various excavations throughout the last few decades have made archaeologists and historians believe that the Stonehenge was originally a burial ground. In 2013, an excavation project led to archaeologists finding cremated remains of over 50,000 bones dating back 3000 - 2500 BC.
The Stonehenge is enclosed by a circular ditch of 6 feet in depth. The ditch was dug using antler picks, which are popular exhibits today at the Stonehenge exhibition. The earthwork is believed to have been the first phase of the construction.