Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in England. Stonehenge is located about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Amesbury town in Wiltshire county. The structure consists of a ring of standing stones, set within earthworks. It is not clear, Who built Stonehenge and what was its purpose. Many studies have been conducted to solve the mystery of Stonehenge’s construction. A new study explains the mystery and reveals about the people buried at the monument. Let’s check out some Stonehenge facts to better decode the mystery.
1. Primarily, two types of stone were used at Stonehenge – the larger sarsens and the smaller bluestones. There are 93 rocks stones visible at Stonehenge now.
2. The standing stones are around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide. Each standing stone weighs around 25 tons.
3. The Stonehenge was built in several stages. It is believed that its construction was started as early as 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC.
4. A ring of 56 chalk pits, known as the Aubrey Holes was found at Stonehenge. The circle is named after John Aubrey, who discovered them in 1666. There are many theories suggesting it’s various uses including astronomical purposes but its purpose remains still unknown.
5. Initially, There were only two entrances to the monument – a wide entrance on the northeast side, and a smaller one on the southern side. Today more gaps exist as a result of later tracks once crossed the monument.
6. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge and its surroundings were declared as UNESCO world heritage site in 1986.
7. Stonehenge was restored many times during the 20th century. Previously, Many stones were laying down and many stones were about to fall. Some stones were restored to upright, and some were reinforced with concrete.
8. The first known reference to Stonehenge appeared in an archeological study done by Henry of Huntingdon in 12th Century. He is said to be the first one to write about the monument followed by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey was the first one to associate the monument to wizard Merlin. As per him, Merlin directed the king to collect the magical stones from Ireland. He also claimed that stones were erected as a memorial to hundreds of Britons who were killed by the Saxons. It is said that Saxons (Germanic people) provided the name Stonehenge (or hanging stones) to the monument.
9. Charles Darwin, best known for evolution theory traveled to Stonehenge in 1877. He went there to conduct a research on Earthworms. He wanted to examine the impact of worms on the objects in the soil over a prolonged period. He concluded that fallen Stonehenge stones were sinking through the soil due to crawling earthworms.
10. The archaeological excavations at the Stonehenge site were started in the early 17th century. The first known excavations at Stonehenge were conducted by Dr. William Harvey and Gilbert North in the early 17th century. Many things like cremation burials, cremated fragments, and human bones were found during excavations which were later studied.
11. It is still a mystery that how the heavy sarsens and bluestones were transported to the site of Stonehenge. It was a challenging task to move massive stones with just primitive tools available at that time of construction. In 2003, a Welsh group Menter Preseli tried to move a three-ton stone from Wales to Stonehenge using stone age methods only, however, so many problems happened and the whole project was scrapped.
12. This is some mind-boggling fact you may not believe. The ownership of Stonehenge changed many times over the centuries. During the 20th Century, it was privately owned by Antrobus family. Stonehenge was put to auction in 1915 when Antrobus family heir was killed during World War I. Cecil Chubb, local resident successful bid on the site and purchased the site for £6,600. Three years later, He donated the monument to the British government. He was felicitated by Prime Minister Lloyd George for his noble task.
13. Stonehenge is the most popular prehistoric circle in Great Britain but there are 6 more prehistoric stone circles in the country. The largest of them is Avebury, containing the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. Avebury is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles located in the village of Avebury, 25 miles north of Stonehenge.
14. Stonehenge has long been researched for its possible connections with ancient astronomy. The site is aligned in the direction of the sunrise of the summer solstice and the sunset of the winter solstice. A range of claims has been made about the site’s connection to astronomy, its meaning, and its use. One theory suggested the site was built to predict solar and lunar eclipses.
15. The Stonehenge free festival was banned in 1984 to stop gathering of people around the summer solstice. The free festival was first held in June 1974 and it gained huge popularity in coming years drawing big crowds. However, the gathering around Stonehenge was banned due to increased drug sale and usage and other security issues. In 1999, the rules were relaxed to allow people to gather at the stones but no festival was held after 1984.
16. The studies have suggested that Stonehenge was a cemetery. The total number of people buried in Stonehenge, mainly in Aubrey holes is estimated as 240. The remains of almost 50 ancient people were found in the 1920s. An estimated 58 of the cremation deposits excavated from Stonehenge were reburied in 1935 as they did not provide much scientific help.
If you know other Stonehenge facts, please share with us in the comments section.