Interesting Facts About Stonehenge

Extremely Interesting and Mysterious Facts About Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a Neolithic monument erected around 2500 BC. A heritage site as well as a tourist destination, it is widely popularized by the mystery of its builders and purpose.
The name Stonehenge is derived from the Old English words; stān means stone and hencg meaning hinge or hen(c)en, which means hang or gallows. Stonehenge is located in the English county Wiltshire, about 3.2 kms west of Amesbury and 13 kms north of Salisbury, in southern England. Stonehenge is a man-made circular structure made of different-sized stones. These stones were buried deep in the ground to make them stand erect and smaller stones were placed horizontally on the top, giving it a doorway-like effect.
­
Who Built Stonehenge?
The Stonehenge is a single structure made of several stones, earth, and timber. It was constructed in phases over a period of more than 1500 years. Who built the Stonehenge still remains a mystery. Everyone from the great Neolithics to the Danes, Romans, Saxons, Merlin, and Phoenicians Celts could have built it. Legends like the dancing giants turning into stone, resulting in the circular position of the stones, has added to the mystic allure of this megastructure. However, some more interesting theories regarding its origin are given below:

Druids
The most popular belief is that the Druids have been attributed with the construction of the Stonehenge. It was speculated that the structure was used for sacrificial ceremonies by the high priests of the Celts. However, this notion was dismissed in the 20th century, when it was proved that Stonehenge was built 5000 years ago by Neolithic people of the British Isles.

Friar's Heel
This myth credits the Devil himself as the architect of Stonehenge. It is believed that an old woman who lived in Ireland had some big stones in her backyard, which the Devil wanted. He disguised himself as a gentleman and lured her into selling the stones with a bag of gold. He promised her the amount of gold she could count during the time he moved the stones. However, the minute she started her count, he magically transported them to Salisbury Plain in England, where they stand today. An elderly priest overheard the Devil bragging that no one would ever be able to tell how many stones he had managed to steal from her. However the priest could, which greatly angered the devil. In his rage he threw one large stone at the priest, hitting his heel.

Merlin and King Aureoles Ambrosias
According to this legend, High King Aureoles Ambrosias, desired to build monument for his three hundred English noblemen who were massacred by the Saxons. It was Merlin who suggested that they move Ireland's Giant's Ring stone circle to Salisbury Plain. On reaching Ireland, King Uther ordered Merlin to magically dismantle and transport the stones as they were too large to carry. Merlin transported them to the plains, around the graves of the English noblemen. It is believed that Aurelius and Constantine are also buried there.

Scientists Theory
According to the modern-day scientists, Stonehenge was built over a period of time by three different tribes.
  • Windmill Hill People: It is believed that the tribe of Neolithic agrarians started the construction of Stonehenge around 3000 B.C. These people built large stone-encased tombs and some part of their burial ground is very close to the Stonehenge. They laid the design for the monument in accordance with their rituals of worship and reverence for circles and symmetry.
  • Beaker People: Around 2000 B.C, this tribe invaded the Salisbury Plain. Their name has been derived from their ancient traditions of burying their dead with beakers or pottery drinking cups along with daggers and battle axes. They were considered to be highly skillful and capable of working with sophisticated mathematical concepts.
  • Wessex People:This tribe came to Stonehenge around 1500 B.C, at the height of the Bronze Age. They belonged to the most advanced cultures and were well-organized traders, but their wealth was concentrated among only few of its members. The bronze dagger carving found on one of the large stones is believed to be their skill. The precise calculations and construction of the Stonehenge was credited to their advanced way of life.
Why was Stonehenge Built?
The purpose of building Stonehenge is shrouded in mystery. Some believe that it was a temple built to worship ancient earth deities, and that the Aubrey Holes may have been dug for the purpose of making an offering to the gods. Another theory suggests that it could have been a type of an observatory for marking celestial movements for ritual purposes. This theory is based on the alignment of the stones by the Wessex people. According to British author John Mitchell, Stonehenge was "a cosmic temple dedicated to all twelve gods of the zodiac. It represents the ideal cosmology, the perfect and complete image of the universe". Archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was a ceremonial burial ground as they have found cremated remains in many of the Aubrey Holes.

Fascinating Facts about Stonehenge
  • Stonehenge was added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, and is legally protected by the Scheduled Ancient Monument.
  • It is managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.
  • Thirty million labor hours may have been used in the construction.
  • The circle was aligned with important sun events like the midsummer sunrise, midwinter sunset, and the southerly rising and northerly setting of the moon.
  • The building comprised sophisticated mathematical and geometrical understandings of the structural engineering of the construction.
  • Two types of stones were used for the construction - blue stones weighing nearly four tons, and sarsen stone weighing twenty-five tons.
Stonehenge is one of the most ancient monuments in the world which reflects the culture of the prehistoric times. A grave cause for concern is that presently this heritage site is struggling to survive against the tide of urbanization, commercialization and encroachment. Greater care needs to be taken to preserve this historic monument so that future generations can also enjoy its ancient and rich history.