Stonehenge prehistoric monument
Stonehenge magnificent sarsen stones
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury.
It consists of a ring of standing stones, each around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide,
and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most
dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.
Stonehenge is probably the best known and most studied megalithic
structure anywhere in the world, yet its original purpose is still
unclear. Even the celebrated summer solstice sunrise significance is in
doubt, Stonehenge may actually have been built to mark the winter solstice
sunset. The winter solstice would have been of much greater importance to
the builders of Stonehenge, early farming communities who depended on the return of longer and warmer
days to grow their crops.
In Ireland the chamber of the mound at Newgrange
is illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines
through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light
up the chamber. At the nearby mound at Dowth
winter solstice sunset illuminates one of the chambers.
Whatever the original purpose of Stonehenge, it certainly would have been a magnificent
ancient temple, a place of spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance.
Building activity at Stonehenge began about 3000 BC (over 5000 years
ago) with the construction of a circular ditch enclosing timber posts. The
timber posts may have supported timber lintels in a wooden henge structure.
About 500 years later (2500 BC) two concentric stone circles
were erected using about 60 blocks of bluestone, the stones weighing
up to 4 ton were transported from Carn Menyn in the Prescelly Mountains
over a 100 miles away. The bluestones were probably transported by sea
and river over a number of years.
Some years later the builders started using much bigger
sarsen stones (a type of sandstone), weighing up to 50 ton each they
were transported about 20 miles from the Marlborough Downs.
Over a number of years a circle of 30 sarsen stones capped by a ring
of sarsen lintels were erected. Within the circle five sarsen
trilithons (two upright stones with a single lintel stone) were
constructed in a U shape. At some stage the original bluestone stone
circles were dismantled and re-erected following the pattern of the
sarsen stones, a circle and a U shape.
by Christiaan Stoudt is an
excellent Stonehenge resource, covering the construction periods,
Stonehenge legends, Archaeoastronomy and general tourist information.
by English Heritage, the official Stonehenge website providing
visitor information and a history of Stonehenge. What visitors see today are
the substantial remnants of the last in a sequence of monuments erected between 3000BC and 1600BC.
Stonehenge Sacred Symbolism
by Neil L Thomas
The pre-historic peoples of Ireland, Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland,
France and Germany exhibit similar elements of ancient beliefs and a Sun
calendar: sixteen months, four weeks a month, five days a week, 365 days a year.
Days could have been named for the ancient deities Sun, Moon, Woden, Thor and Freyr.
- The New Key to an Ancient Enigma.
A completely new and convincing solution to the key puzzles of Stonehenge by
, an experienced archaeologist based in Oxford, England.
His patient detective work and detailed computer analysis of clues hidden within
this famous monument can be made to yield remarkable new insights into how the
earthwork and stone circle were conceived and laid out.
Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion
by Andy Worthington looks at how the
celebrations at Stonehenge have brought together different aspects of
British counter-culture to make the monument a ‘living temple' and an
icon of alternative Britain. The story of the Stonehenge summer solstice
celebrations begins with the Druid revival of the 18th century and the
earliest public gatherings of the 19th and early 20th centuries and ends
with the reopening of Stonehenge on the summer solstice in the year 2000.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tour
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours.
Visit Newgrange World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire.
Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland.