Stonehenge, one of the most popular sites in the world, is a prehistoric monument found in Wiltshire, England. It is also one of the most mysterious monuments in the world. Unfortunately, archaeologists have not been able to find data supporting any one purpose for the construction and use of Stonehenge.
Archaeologists do agree that Stonehenge was built in three stages. The first stage, built in approximately 3100 B.C, was the original Henge. It consisted of a circular ditch, an earthen bank and Aubrey holes. Aubrey holes are circular pits in the chalk layer of the earth that are about one meter wide. Experts believe that the pits were used in religious ceremonies or for burials. Stonehenge was abandoned not long after the completion of this first stage, and it was not used for more than 1000 years.
Archaeologists view the second building stage of Stonehenge as the most dramatic. Construction began in approximately 2150 B.C. Builders transported 82 bluestones, some weighing 4 tons, to the site. It is believed that transporting these stones involved the use of rollers on the land as well as rafts in the rivers when necessary. This route covered 370 km (240 miles). When set up, these stones formed an incomplete double circle at the center of the site.
The third building stage started approximately 2000 B.C. It involved bringing Sarsen stones, which were very large stones, from about 40 km (25 miles) north of Stonehenge to the site. The largest of these stones weighed nearly 50 tons, and they were most likely moved by using sledges and ropes. Archaeologists estimate that it took 600 men to pull one stone, with 500 pulling the sledge and 100 putting rollers under the sledge.
The builders placed the stones in an outer circle supported by lintels. On the inside of the circle, there were five trilithons. A trilithon consists of two tall, upright stones supporting a horizontal stone across the top. These five groupings were arranged in a horseshoe shape that is still visible today.
With no records to explain the reason why it was created, Stonehenge is a mystery. Some feel it was a healing place while others believe it was a burial site. Some believe that it was a solar calendar while others feel that it was a sacred ritual area. Some even believe that aliens created it. Due to the long construction period, the reason for using the site may have differed with each stage of its construction.
Fortunately, visitors have full access to this megalithic monument. A walk through the site and a close look at the ruins allows the visitor to use their imagination, along with the few facts that are known, to find their own solution to the puzzle that is known as Stonehenge.