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For centuries, historians and archaeologists have puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1, years to erect. Located in southern England, it is comprised of roughly massive upright stones placed in a circular layout. While many modern scholars now agree that Stonehenge was once a burial ground, they have yet to determine what other purposes it served and how a civilization without modern technology—or even the wheel—produced the mighty monument. Its construction is all the more baffling because, while the sandstone slabs of its outer ring hail from local quarries, scientists have traced the bluestones that make up its inner ring all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some miles from where Stonehenge sits on Salisbury Plain. Archaeologists believe England most iconic prehistoric ruin was built in several stages, with the earliest constructed 5, or more years ago. First, Neolithic Britons used primitive tools—possibly made from deer antlers—to dig a massive circular ditch and bank, or henge, on Salisbury Plain.

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For centuries, historians and archaeologists have puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1, years to erect. Located in southern England, it is comprised of roughly massive upright stones placed in a circular layout. While many modern scholars now agree that Stonehenge was once a burial ground, they have yet to determine what other purposes it served and how a civilization without modern technology—or even the wheel—produced the mighty monument.

Its construction is all the more baffling because, while the sandstone slabs of its outer ring hail from local quarries, scientists have traced the bluestones that make up its inner ring all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some miles from where Stonehenge sits on Salisbury Plain. Archaeologists believe England most iconic prehistoric ruin was built in several stages, with the earliest constructed 5, or more years ago.

First, Neolithic Britons used primitive tools—possibly made from deer antlers—to dig a massive circular ditch and bank, or henge, on Salisbury Plain. Deep pits dating back to that era and located within the circle—known as Aubrey holes after John Aubrey, the 17th-century antiquarian who discovered them—may have once held a ring of timber posts, according to some scholars. During the third phase of construction, which took place around B. Some 50 sarsen stones are now visible on the site, which may once have contained many more.

Radiocarbon dating suggests that work continued at Stonehenge until roughly B. The smaller bluestones, on the other hand, have been traced all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some miles away from Stonehenge. How, then, did prehistoric builders without sophisticated tools or engineering haul these boulders, which weigh up to 4 tons, over such a great distance? They then transferred the boulders onto rafts and floated them first along the Welsh coast and then up the River Avon toward Salisbury Plain; alternatively, they may have towed each stone with a fleet of vessels.

More recent hypotheses have them transporting the bluestones with supersized wicker baskets or a combination of ball bearings, long grooved planks and teams of oxen. As early as the s, geologists have been adding their voices to the debate over how Stonehenge came into being. Challenging the classic image of industrious Neolithic builders pushing, carting, rolling or hauling the craggy bluestones from faraway Wales, some scientists have suggested that glaciers, not humans, did most of the heavy lifting.

The globe is dotted with giant rocks known as glacial erratics that were carried over long distances by moving ice floes. Most archaeologists have remained cool toward the glacial theory, however, wondering how the forces of nature could possibly have delivered the exact number of stones needed to complete the circle. According to the 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose tale of King Arthur and mythical account of English history were considered factual well into the Middle Ages , Stonehenge is the handiwork of the wizard Merlin.

In the mid-fifth century, the story goes, hundreds of British nobles were slaughtered by the Saxons and buried on Salisbury Plain. The soldiers successfully defeated the Irish but failed to move the stones, so Merlin used his sorcery to spirit them across the sea and arrange them above the mass grave. In the 17th century, archaeologist John Aubrey made the claim that Stonehenge was the work of the Celtic high priests known as the Druids, a theory widely popularized by the antiquarian William Stukeley, who had unearthed primitive graves at the site.

Even today, people who identify as modern Druids continue to gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice. However, in the midth century, radiocarbon dating demonstrated that Stonehenge stood more than 1, years before the Celts inhabited the region, eliminating the ancient Druids from the running. Many modern historians and archaeologists now agree that several distinct tribes of people contributed to Stonehenge, each undertaking a different phase of its construction.

Bones, tools and other artifacts found on the site seem to support this hypothesis. The first stage was achieved by Neolithic agrarians who were likely indigenous to the British Isles. Later, it is believed, groups with advanced tools and a more communal way of life left their stamp on the site. Some have suggested that they were immigrants from the European continent, but many scientists think they were native Britons descended from the original builders.

If the facts surrounding the architects and construction of Stonehenge remain shadowy at best, the purpose of the arresting monument is even more of a mystery. While historians agree that it was a place of great importance for over 1, years, we may never know what drew early Britons to Salisbury Plain and inspired them to continue developing it. There is strong archaeological evidence that Stonehenge was used as a burial site, at least for part of its long history, but most scholars believe it served other functions as well—either as a ceremonial site, a religious pilgrimage destination, a final resting place for royalty or a memorial erected to honor and perhaps spiritually connect with distant ancestors.

In the s, the astronomer Gerald Hawkins suggested that the cluster of megalithic stones operated as an astronomical calendar, with different points corresponding to astrological phenomena such as solstices, equinoxes and eclipses. More recently, signs of illness and injury in the human remains unearthed at Stonehenge led a group of British archaeologists to speculate that it was considered a place of healing, perhaps because bluestones were thought to have curative powers.

Stonehenge has undergone several restorations over the years, and some of its boulders have been set in concrete to prevent collapse. Meanwhile, archaeological excavations and development of the surrounding area to facilitate tourism have turned up other significant sites nearby, including other henges. We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present.

London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom and one of the largest and most important cities in the world. The area was originally settled by early hunter gatherers around 6, B. Buckingham Palace is the London home and the administrative center of the British royal family. The enormous building and extensive gardens are an important site of ceremonial and political affairs in the United Kingdom, as well as a major tourist attraction.

But for a monarchy Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world, and it has served an important role in British political, social and cultural affairs for more than 1, years. In spite of its name, the facility is no longer an abbey, and while it still hosts Stonehenge was built in phases. Around B. Inside the bank were 56 pits, which became known as the Aubrey Holes, after antiquarian Like most of the bargain-hunters who packed the Palace Theatre in Salisbury, England, on the afternoon of September 21, , Cecil Chubb was looking for a deal.

Legend says the wealthy year-old lawyer had been dispatched by his wife to purchase a set of dining chairs, but According to the established wisdom for some 90 years, many of the smaller rocks making up Stonehenge come from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales. In , geologist Herbert Henry Thomas first identified an outcrop known as Carn Meini as the source of the spotted dolerite The secrets surrounding Stonehenge and its creation have captivated minds for centuries, with each discovery about the landmark peeling away a layer of its mystery.

Now, a new study has revealed the dietary—and celebratory—secrets of the legendary builders. And the results show Over the centuries, people have speculated as to its purpose, proposing The bill outlined specific constitutional and civil rights and ultimately gave Parliament power over the monarchy. This Day In History.

Who Built Stonehenge? Winter Solstice. Henry VIII. A History London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom and one of the largest and most important cities in the world. Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace is the London home and the administrative center of the British royal family. Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world, and it has served an important role in British political, social and cultural affairs for more than 1, years.

Neolithic Feasts at Stonehenge Were Not Vegan-Friendly The secrets surrounding Stonehenge and its creation have captivated minds for centuries, with each discovery about the landmark peeling away a layer of its mystery.

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