Stonehenge is arguably the most spiritual landmark in the whole of Britain. No one knows exactly what the provenance is of the stones themselves but they have been placed together in an awe-inspiring circle. Their sheer age – around five thousand years old – is also an extremely impressive factor and one that influenced UNESCO’s decision to deem this a World Heritage Site. Archaeologists have excavated relics and cremated remains that would suggest that Stonehenge was an important Neolithic and Bronze Age burial ground. Stonehenge was not built in just one incident, it evolved over many thousands of years and its purposes and uses may have changed radically over that time also. At the moment of its busiest stage of construction sometime between 2600 and 2400 BC, some 30 immense sarsen stones were somehow transported from a quarry from Marlborough to this site. The lintels were slotted together using tongue and groove methods that are still very much in use in contemporary construction.
The theories about Stonehenge’s purpose are varied and intriguing. Some academics argue that it was used as a spiritual place of healing much like Lourdes in France. Seventeenth century architects believed that Stonehenge was built by the Romans as a temple. The myths and legends tend to be more high-flown, asserting that Merlin the Magician ordered a giant to erect the monument or had it magically teleported from Ireland.
Whatever the truth, Stonehenge remains one of Britain’s Seven Wonders. Unfortunately you can only get up close and personal with the stones themselves on certain occasions throughout the year such as the Summer Solstice, the ancient pagan sun festival. During the rest of the year you will have to content yourself with standing at a barrier and admiring it from relatively afar. In recent years critics have levelled a charge at the management of Stonehenge regarding its close proximity to two major roads. The resultant pollution is damaging the ancient stones.
In recent times a brand new henge was discovered not even a mile away from the original site of Stonehenge. The archaeological community has been very excited by this find, visitors too.
Text © 2011 Abiyoyo SL