Stonehenge; a mystery that both intrigues and frustrates historians, archaeologists, and tourists alike. Why was it built? How was it built? Whilst views such as 12th century’s Geoffrey of Monmouth, who believed it was magically transported from Ireland and re-erected by the wizard Merlin have long gone, these are questions that have baffled us for centuries!
Set in a circular and horseshoe formation, today’s position of the stones actually reflects the last of these settings, and is believed to have been completed by around 2200BC!
2 types of stones can be found at Stonehenge. The larger stones you can see are called sarsens, and weigh up to 35 tonnes. These were from the local area. However the smaller stones (if you can call them that) are bluestones and were sourced from the Preseli Hills of Wales- 150 miles away! It’s assumed that these would have been transported first by land and then by sea, down the river Avon.
56 circular pits known as Aubrey Holes (named after John Aubrey who discovered them in the 17th century) can also be found onsite. These contained cremated human bones, from men, women, children.
There are still many intepretations as to why it was built. Some of the suggestions include:
- The rocks align with the changing seasons and marks up with the shortest day of the year, the Winter solstice. The difference in sunlight during the day would’ve helped with the farming and crops, so could potentially be why they aligned the stones in certain positions.
- The stones represent ancestors. It serves as a place for the dead, where the cremated were buried.
- The bluestone rocks were believed to have healing powers, so it could be a place of healing.
Overall, what we can take from it is that this magnificent structure was built for worship, but also as a place to find healing, hope, and bury the dead. I believe they had the idea of connecting with the earth and nature to improve their own lives; this was a time when they depended on nature to survive, and so this to them was the ‘center’ of it all.