Facts about Stonehenge

We found 16 facts about Stonehenge

Presumably, the world of the dead

Despite insightful archaeological research, we have not yet fully understood the method of construction and the purpose of Stonehenge to this day. Unfortunately, the people who built and used this temple have left no written sources. It is admirable that the civilization that built Stonehenge could process blocks of rock weighing tens of tons. It is also worth mentioning that some elements were transported to the construction site from a distance of 240 kilometers.

Stonehenge is a complex of prehistoric temples in Salisbury Plain in the south-western part of central England.
It contains deposits of limestone dating from the Late Cretaceous period (100.5 to 66 million years ago).
Stonehenge is a story that stretches over thousands of years. It begins in the Stone Age, continues into the Bronze Age, and probably goes back to the Iron Age.
First pits, into which pine pillars about 75 cm in diameter were inserted, date back to about 8,000 BC. There were four or five of them (one pit may have been a remnant of a tree growing there). Three or four pillars were arranged in an east-west line and were probably used to perform religious rituals. Over time, these pillars decayed and fell apart.
Structures similar to the original wooden Stonehenge have been found in various corners of northern Europe.
Such structures were found in Blick Mead (1.6 km east of Stonehenge), Aberdeenshire in Scotland or Scandinavia, dating from a later period.
The structure has been under development for over 1,400 years. The stages of development can be divided into eight parts.
The first stage of construction was Stonehenge 1, whose construction began around 3100 BC. The structure comprised a circular shaft, and the ditch reinforced with chalk rock. The circle had a diameter of 110 meters and two entrances: one, the larger one located to the northeast, and a smaller one facing south. Within the rampart, 56 chalk-filled pits were also excavated, the significance of which is still unknown. They were named Aubrey Holes in honor of John Aubrey, who was the first to spot and describe them during his visit to Stonehenge in 1666.
The second stage of development, Stonehenge 2, was carried out around 3000 BC.
Few elements from this period have survived to the present day. It is suspected that it involved the installation of irregularly spaced wooden pillars in the sanctuary area, after which traces of holes in the ground with a diameter of 40 cm remain. During this time, more cremation burials were carried out in Aubrey’s holes. Stonehenge is the first fenced cremation cemetery in the British Isles.
The next stage - Stonehenge 3 I - occurred around 2600 BC.
During this stage, timber was replaced with stone. In the central part, there were (probably) two arrays of holes called Q and R Holes. They held 80 stone blocks, although only 43 have been discovered today. Some blocks were probably made of sandstone and some of the diabase. Some of these blocks were transported to Stonehenge from a distance of 240 kilometers from the Preseli Hills in Wales.
The fourth stage of construction, Stonehenge 3 II, lasted from 2600 to 2400 BC. During that phase, 30 sarsen stones - glacial sandstones - were set.
They were transported from a quarry 25 kilometers away from the temple and set up circularly, 33 meters in diameter. Each sarsen measured 4.1 meters high, 2.1 meters wide, 1.1 meters deep, and weighed about 25 tons. To join the structural elements together, builders used mortise and tenon joints. The construction, along with the transverse beams, reached a height of 4,9 meters. The circle’s inward-facing wall surface was more finely finished and smoothed. Five triliths - two vertical boulders topped with a lintel - made with dressed sarsen stone were erected in a horseshoe shape within the circle.
The trilithon structure was 13.7 meters wide, and its open end faced the northeast.
The horseshoe made of trilithons was a symmetrical structure. Each of the stones weighed about 50 tons and was linked using fanciful techniques.
Between 2600 BC and 2400 BC, Stonehenge hosted religious festivals attended by up to 4,000 people.
The festivals, including animal sacrifices, coincided with the winter and summer solstices. Since sacrificial animals were transported from distant regions, such as the highlands of Scotland, it led to a theory that Stonehenge may have been the center of the unification of the inhabitants of the British Isles.
The diabase from the Stonehenge 3 I phase was rearranged at least twice between 2400 BC and 1930 BC.
Initially, they were placed in the circle surrounding the sarsen ring and then moved into the circle between the sarsen rings. These phases are called Stonehenge 3 III and Stonehenge 3 IV, respectively.
Between 1930 BC and 1600 BC, part of the diabase was removed from the northeast side and then arranged into a horseshoe-like shape, reflecting the trilithons in the center of the structure.
It was the penultimate construction phase, known as Stonehenge 3 V.
Stonehenge 3 VI was the last phase of the construction, carried out around 1600 BC. During that stage, the last two circles of holes in the ground were hollowed out - the Y and the Z Ring.
The outer ring (Y) comprised 30 holes, approximately 1.7 x 1.14 meters in diameter, tapering to a base of 1m x 50 cm. The diameter of the Y ring is approximately 54 m. The inner ring (Z) comprises 29 holes (the thirtieth is most likely under the overturned sarsen) and is 10 cm larger in diameter than the Y ring holes. The Z ring has a diameter of approximately 39 m.
The avenue that led to the sanctuary was about 3 kilometers long and 11 meters wide.
It was surrounded by earth ramparts on both sides and used on the shortest and longest day of the year by processions. The conduct most likely set out from Durrington Walls, 3.2 kilometers away, a settlement considered “the world of the living,” and led to Stonehenge, considered “the world of the dead.” Unfortunately, these are only assumptions, as most conjectures about the customs prevailing in these lands at that time.
The Y and Z Rings were not discovered until 1923. Subsequent radiocarbon dating showed they were the last work done in the area.
According to the researchers, the so-called bluestones (most likely diabase) were placed in them. However, since they were constructed at the last stage, the version that they served as holes to help construct other sanctuary elements has been firmly ruled out.
After the completion of Stonehenge, human activity continued at the site for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Some researchers claim people gathered there for rituals as late as the Iron Age or early Middle Ages.
In 2013, a group of archaeologists led by Mike Parker Pearson excavated over 50,000 fragments of cremated bones.
The analysis of these fragments concluded they belonged to 63 people buried at the shrine.
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