Stonehenge Man has always been interested in mystery. Stonehenge is one of the most mysterious places that man has been interested in. Construction began on Stonehenge at about 2200 B.C. (Abels 9). The origin and uses of Stonehenge are still a great mystery. Stonehenge is a ruin of a stone building.
Stonehenge is the oldest pre-historic structure in western Europe. The name “Stonehenge” is Saxon in origin and means hanging stones. Stonehenge is visible from around one to two miles (Chippindale 12). It has a plain structure and at first glance Stonehenge appears to be a large pile of rocks. But when looked at more closely, it is a structure of great mystery. (Abels 5).
Stonehenge contains close to one hundred and sixty-five stones. All of the stones are arranged in a plain and simple manner. Stonehenge is not very large. It is only about thirty five paces or eighty feet wide. Stonehenge is three hundred and thirty feet above sea level and is eighty miles west of London. Stonehenge is located in Wiltshire in south central England.
The closest town to Stonehenge is Amesbury. It is in the center of Salisbury Plains (Chippindale 10). The pillars at Stonehenge are extraordinary. All of the stones appear gray in color, but their natural colors vary from mostly orange to brown or blue. Many lichens grow all over the stones. About one half of the original stone pillars are missing today.
All of the joints that join the stone pillars together are dry stone joints. There was no wet sand or clay used to join the pillars together (Chippindale 12). At Stonehenge there are five different types of stone circles. The five types are: outer sarsen circle, outer bluestone circles, inner sarsen trilithons, inner blue horseshoe, and the altar stone. The outer sarsen circle is one hundred feet in diameter.
Each stone is about thirteen and a half feet tall and seven feet wide. The space between each of the stones is approximately four feet apart (Chippindale 12). The outer bluestone circle is close to seventy-five feet in diameter. Most of the stones height are six and a half feet or taller. The stones width are between three and four feet. The stones color is blue.
Only six of the original sixty stones still remain standing straight. The others either lean or lie on their side. The inner sarsen trilithons lie just inside of the bluestone circle. Some call the inner sarsen trilithon the sarsen horseshoe. The trilithon is arranged symmetrically in a horseshoe shape and is about forty-five feet across.
Their overall height is about twenty-four feet high. Three of the original trilithons still stand in tact today. All of the original stones that make up the trilithons are still at Stonehenge today (Chippindale 14). Just inside the inner sarsen trilithon is the inner bluestone horseshoe. The stones start out at around six feet and increase in size moving south-west until they reach a maximum of eight feet.
Six of the original nineteen stones that made the horseshoe are still in place (Chippindale 15). Towards the apex of the inner bluestone horseshoe is a single large slab of gray-green sandstone. This stone is called the altar stone. It is approximately sixteen feet long and lies on its side. It is broken into two pieces. The stone was believed to have once stood upright.
The stone has been given nicknames like “Slaughter”, “Heel”, and “Station” (Chippindale 16). The uses for Stonehenge has always been a vast mystery. No one knows for sure what Stonehenge uses were. A few possible uses for Stonehenge are as a temple, a burial site, and as a sundial. Some scientists believe that Stonehenge was once used as a temple. The scientists came to this conclusion due to the circular shape and the towering stones.
Many people consider Stonehenge a holy place. Over the last three hundred years druids have come to worship at Stonehenge. The druids consider Stonehenge their Religious Temple (Roop 38). From early digs at Stonehenge we know that Stonehenge was at least at one time used for burial ceremonies because of the human remains that were found at Stonehenge (Roop 30). Some scientists believe that Stonehenge was used as some sort of sundial to tell the time , or as a calendar to tell the date.
Scientists came to this conclusion due to the way the sun hits the stones. At different times during the day the sun casts different shadows on the stone that lies in the center of Stonehenge, the altar stone (Roop 90). There are several assumptions about who built Stonehenge. The overwhelming impression of the builders of Stonehenge is their immaculate perverseness. All of the stones at Stonehenge came from different places. The bluestones were brought from Wales, the sarsens from Auebury, and the massive structure of stones was built in the center of chalkland (Chippindale 273).
A few possible builders of Stonehenge are the druids, different groups of people, and the devil. Numerous scientists believe that Stonehenge was built by the druids. The druids were Celts and they arrived in Europe around 500 B.C. The druids were made up of mostly judges and priests. The druids held mystic ceremonies at Stonehenge (Abels 16). Another theory to who built Stonehenge is that it was started by one group of people and continued to be worked on by different groups of people.
The theory states that Stonehenge was started by one group of people and finished by several other groups over time. We know from ancient history that the druids were not the original builders of Stonehenge. They may have completed Stonehenge but they did not work alone (Roop 62). One legend of how the circle at Stonehenge was formed is that the devil built it. There is no scientific evidence to back up the legend of the devil building Stonehenge. It is not a scientific theory (Roop 32).
The Stonehenge that we see today is a part of three separate building phases. The three phases were Stonehenge I, Stonehenge II, and Stonehenge III. Stonehenge I was built in the Stone Age about 2200 B.C. There was a large circular space nearly one hundred yards across and was enclosed by a dirt bank. At that time Stonehenge was a simple open-aired temple (Abels 9).
Stonehenge II was built between the time periods of 1700 and 1600 B.C. A large number of bluestones were brought in from Wales which is one hundred and forty miles away from Stonehenge. Then they began forming two different circles inside the original circle (Abels 12). Stonehenge III was built in 1600 B.C. during the Bronze Age. At this time the sarsen stones were brought in from Marlborough Downs, about twenty miles away from Stonehenge.
During this period the stones arrangement became very complex (Abels 13). The first thing that was started on in the construction of Stonehenge was the digging of the ditch. The ditch was dug with deer antlers. They made a large pile of the antler dust which was close to six feet tall (Atkinson 6). Radiocarbon dates for antler picks that were abandoned show a date of around 3100 B.C. for early Stonehenge I activity.
Late in Stonehenge I, many cremations took place and many people were buried in Aubrey holes, in the bank, and in the ditch fill. The radiocarbon dates on the bodies found date back to about 2300 B.C. (Chippindale 267). After the ditch was finished they began working on the bank. The bank stands on the immediate inner edge of the ditch.
The diameter of the ditch was about three hundred and twenty feet. Only a small portion of the bank still remains today. The present day bank is two feet tall and it was originally about six feet tall (Atkinson 25). The final phase of Stonehenge, Stonehenge III, was completed at about 2100 B.C. (Wiltshire).
There are a few theories of how stones at Stonehenge were moved. Two possible ways that the stones at Stonehenge got there, are that the stones were rolled on logs and also, the stones were moved on rafts. Some scientists believe that the gigantic stones were rolled on logs. The appearance of the logs might resemble a sled that we could possibly see today. Other scientists assume that the stones were moved by rafts or boats down the river (Roop 78).
In conclusion, the source and uses of Stonehenge are still an immense mystery. Some of the theories stated by the referenced authors contain logical explanations about the construction, uses, and builders of Stonehenge for example, Abels’ theory of the druids building Stonehenge. Other theories mentioned appear to be based purely on myth without a logical basis such as Roop’s theory of the devil. The inception and uses of Stonehenge remain an enormous enigma to this day.