The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world. What visitors see today are the substantial remnants of the last in a sequence of such monuments erected between circa 3000BC and 1600BC. Each monument was a circular structure, aligned with the rising of the sun at the midsummer solstice.
There has always been intense debate over quite what purpose Stonehenge served. Certainly, it was the focal point in a landscape filled with prehistoric ceremonial structures. It also represented an enormous investment of labour and time. A huge effort and great organisation was needed to carry the stones tens, and sometimes hundreds, of miles by land and water and then to shape and raise them. Only a sophisticated society could have mustered so large a workforce and the design and construction skills necessary to produce Stonehenge and its surrounding monuments.
Stonehenge's orientation in relation to the rising and setting sun has always been one of its most remarkable features. Whether this was because its builders came from a sun-worshipping culture or because - as some scholars have asserted - the circle and its banks were part of a huge astronomical calendar, remains a mystery. What cannot be denied is the ingenuity of the builders of Stonehenge. With only very basic tools at their disposal, they shaped the stones and formed the mortises and tenons that linked uprights to lintels. Using antlers and bones, they dug the pits to hold the stones and made the banks and ditches that enclosed them
Mystery surrounds this 5,000 year old monument in the centre of the World Heritage Site. Visit this prehistoric site and decide for yourself whether Stonehenge was a place of sun worship, a healing sanctuary, a sacred burial site, or something different altogether!
Stonehenge, Wiltshire SP4 7DE
Nearest Train Station: Salisbury
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