I.On Salisbury Plain in Southern England stands Stonehenge, the most famous of all megalithic sites. Stonehenge is unique among the monuments of the ancient world. Isolated on a windswept plain, built by a people with no written language, Stonehenge challenges our imagination.
The impressive stone circle stands near the top of a gently sloping hill on Salisbury Plain about thirty miles from the English Channel. The stones are visible over the hills for a mile or two in every direction. Stonehenge is one of over fifty thousand prehistoric “megalithics” in Europe.
As Stonehenge is approached, the forty giant stones seem to touch the sky. Most of the stones stand twenty-four or more feet high. Some stones weigh as much as forty tons. Others are smaller, weighing only five tons. At first glance, the stones may seem to be a natural formation. But a closer look shows that only human imagination and determination could have created Stonehenge.

II.The Stonehenge today looks quite different from the Stonehenge of old. Wind and weather have destroyed a little of Stonehenge over the ages. People have destroyed much more.

Today, less than half of the original stones still stand as their builders planned. Many of the once upright stones lie on their sides. Religious fanatics, who felt threatened by the mysteries posed by Stonehenge, knocked over many of the standing stones. They toppled some of the huge stones, which then split into pieces; they buried others.

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Other stones were “quarried” over the centuries as free building material and hauled away. Even into this century, visitors have come with hammers to carry away a chip of stone with them.

III.Only in recent years have the stones been protected from the huge amounts of people that see them every year. No longer can anyone roam among the stones. Too much damage, intentional or not, has been done by the hundreds of thousands of visitors. Today, tourists are even prevented from walking between the stones for fear that the millions of footsteps every year might make the stones unstable.

IV.The twelfth-century English writer and historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth, first recorded Merlin’s building of Stonehenge in his famous book History of the Kings of Britain. Geoffrey claimed that his book was a translation of “a certain very ancient book written in the British language.” However, no other scholar or historian knows of the existence of such a book.

According to Geoffrey, the great stones were brought from Ireland to England to mark the burial place of a group of slain British princes. These prince-warriors had been treacherously killed by Hengist, the leader of an army of Saxons who invaded Britain around 450 AD
Others said to have built Stonehenge were the Devil, (disguised as a gentleman), the Romans, the Druids, the people of the Lost Continent of Atlantis, Indians of North America, and the Phoenicians of Greeks.

V.There appear to be three phases of construction known as I, II, and III.

Stonehenge I was a large open-air circle almost one hundred yards across. A dirt bank six feet high and a ditch seven feet deep and ten to twenty feet wide made the circle. The first stage of Stonehenge was quite simple. It had two circular embankments separated by a ditch. The Aubrey Holes were dug and the Heel Stone was in place. There may have been a wooden structure in the middle.

Just within the bank was a circle of 56 holes, named “Aubrey’s Holes” after their discoverer. Some of these were used for burials. The four Stones of the Seasons, placed according to the position of the sun at the dawn of the summer solstice, were in the center of the platform.

Stonehenge II (2150 to 2000 B.C.)
Europe was still in the Neolithic age when the second phase of Stonehenge began. The entrance was widened into an avenue to the end stone, or Heel Stone, just outside the main group. Blue/hued stones were brought from the Prescelly Mountains in Wales, some 125 miles away. They were arranged in two concentric circles on the platform. How these stones were transported is one of the greatest mysteries of Stonehenge, even today.
This second phase was never fully completed. Suddenly it was replaced by a new, more grandiose project, and the blue stones were taken away. No one knows where they were taken. The third phase began almost immediately after this occurrence.

Stonehenge III (2000 B.C. to 1100 B.C.)
For this phase, new stones were brought from a quarry in Marlborough Down, 27 miles from Stonehenge. Once carved, they were arranged to form a wide circle covered with a continuous lintel. The thirty vertical uprights and the horizontal holes were ingeniously fitted together. In the center of the circle stood five great trilithens. Each of these structures was formed of three stones in form of an inverted “U.” The trilithens were arranged in a semi-circle, so that only one opening led to the interior. At dawn on the morning of the summer solstice, the first ray of sun penetrats the interior point; after passing over the Heel Stone, to reach the very center of the semi-circle formed by the trilithens.
Later in the Bronze Age, the monument underwent some minor changes.Some of the blue stones from Prescelly were recovered and put in the space outlined by the five trilithons. The structure then consisted of three concentric circles of upright stones.

The time period for this construction was relatively short. Within about one-hundred years, the major portion of Stonehenge had been completed. Thus, about four-thousand years ago the central part of Stonehenge stood magnificently on the Salisbury Plain. Some of these blue stones were taken down and moved again. Around 1000 BC,
the avenue was extended all the way to the River Avon.
VI.Gerald Hawkins, an astronomer from Harvard College Observatory, felt that the most obvious purpose for Stonehenge was a huge important calendar, marking one major day in the year, the summer solstice. After more computer research, Hawkins found that Stonehenge also seemed to mark significant risings and settings of the moon. He programmed his computer to pinpoint where the sun and moon rose and set in 1500 BC. The results were astonishing. Hawkins wrote, “There was no doubt. Those important and often duplicated Stonehenge alignments were oriented to the sun and moon.”
According to Hawkins theory, Stonehenge was a gigantic celestial calendar. Hawkins theorized that Stonehenge also served as a source of power for priests and their people. Hawkins also theorized that Stonehenge “served as an intellectual game.” Hawkins questioned why these thinking, intelligent people would stop with the simple alignment of Stonehenge.

He answered his own questions, writing, “I think that the men who designed its various parts enjoyed the mental exercise above and beyond the call of duties. They had to set themselves more challenges, and try for more difficult, rewarding, and spectacular solutions, partially for the greater glory of God, but partly for the joy of man, the thinking animal.”
Hawkins returned to the Stonehenge enigma in 1964. This time he focused his energies on the alignment of the Aubrey Holes, and came to a conclusion. He concluded that the Aubrey Holes were used to predict eclipses of the moon. He theorized that the holes were a huge “Neolithic computer”, suggesting that the priests of Stonehenge placed wooden markers in certain Aubrey Holes. By moving the markers, people could calculate and predict eclipses of the moon. Hawkins reached that conclusion by noting that eclipses occur in a repeated cycle of every 18.61 years.
Three times 18.61 rounded off is 56, the exact number of the Aubrey Holes. By moving markers from hole to hole around the ring, eclipses of the moon could be predicted.
Another famous British scientist, Fred Holye, professor of astronomy at Cambridge University, made his analysis of the astronomical use of Stonehenge after examining Hawkins sight lines. Hoyle agreed that Stonehenge was an astronomical sight; however, he disagreed with Hawkin’s ideas about the standing stones of Stonehenge III.
Hoyle believed that while these builders had great skill, they did not have the astronomical skill to construct such a complicated celestial calendar. Stonehenge can be used to predict Easter and Passover, two religious holidays unknown by the early builders of Stonehenge. The early builders may not have understood all the intricacies of the Stonehenge celestial calendar.

Hawkin’s theory seemes to answer many questions about the astronomical significance of Stonehenge.Yet, his theories posed many more questions.
VII.Hundreds of books and articles have been written about Stonehenge. Almost every author has had new ideas or theories about it. Over the years, some of the secrets have been uncovered. Archaeologist digs have revealed many things about Stonehenge. However, we can only guess at how these alignments were used. We can only speculate as to the ceremonies performed around the great stones.

Also, we can only theorize as to why Stonehenge was ever conceived and constructed. The stones still tower over the Salisbury Plane. They stand and have stood for thousands of years.
We may never know all the answers to the questions surrounding Stonehenge. Until we can stand in the footsteps of the people of Stonehenge, we will never answer all of the questions and riddles surrounding it. Still, the great silent stones challenge us to try to unravel their secrets.


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Behind every great structure in the world, there are the people who made them, and who took the time and effort to design them. Those who made Stonehenge succeeded in creating an incredibly complex and mysterious structure that lived on long after its creators were dead. The many aspects of Stonehenge and the processes by which it was built reveal much about the intelligence and sophistication of the civilizations that designed and built the monument, despite the fact that it is difficult to find out who exactly these people were. They have left very little evidence behind with which we could get a better idea of their everyday lives, their culture, their surroundings, and their affairs with other peoples. The technology and wisdom that are inevitably required in constructing such a monument show that these prehistoric peoples had had more expertise than expected. The planning and assembling of Stonehenge took a very long time (about one thousand years, from 2800 BC to 1500 BC*), and not one but many different groups of people were involved in the process. How they came about plays an important role in understanding them. Some of the first men to come to England that are connected to the Stonehenge builders came when the ice blocking Britain and France melted around 10,000 BC (Souden, 104). After them, many more groups of people came from the mainland, and had great influence on those already living there. The first group involved in the building of Stonehenge was the Windmill Hill people. These people were semi nomadic farmers, mainly just keeping their flocks of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs, and growing wheat, who had arrived as some of the last Neolithic (or New Stone Age, 4300 – 2200 BC) newcomers in England. Not only were they farmers they also hunted, mined flint, made and traded axes, and could almost be called industrialists. The Windmill Hill people had a very strong religion with a great respect for their dead and their ancestors. They have exceptional collective graves, in the form of long barrows, or long manmade piles of dirt, sometimes 300 feet long. Many riches such as food, tools, and pottery were buried with the dead (Hawkins, 36). The next group to contribute to Stonehenge was the Beaker people, known for the beaker-like pottery they would frequently bury with their dead. These people did not practice the ritual of collective burials, rather single or double burials, and the dead were accompanied by more weapons such as daggers and axes. These single burials were in the form of round barrows. The Beaker people were well organized, active, and powerful, and also probably more territorial (Hawkins, 36). They practiced commerce with other cultures, and their graves give an impression of there being an aristocracy in the society (Niel, 84). The last major group to put time into the construction of Stonehenge was the Wessex culture group. They arrived on Salisbury plain around 1400 BC, and were involved in building the most prominent part of Stonehenge- the great stone circles (Niel, 86). These people were well organized, and probably less aggressive than their predecessors, while more industrious. The people of Wessex were less concerned with war than they were with art, peace, and trade. In the graves of their chieftains (the only members of society who were preserved for afterlife), were goods such as daggers, bows, and various other ornaments. Their access to such treasures can perhaps be attributed to their great international traders who probably traded with people from the Mediterranean Sea area (Hawkins, 37). They built the final phase of Stonehenge, and perhaps brought about many cultural changes to the monument such as giving the monument visual magnificence and more astronomical precision (Service + Bradbery, 255). It is necessary, in order to understand the complexity involved in the assembling of Stonehenge, to know the process by which and the environment in which the monument was built. By the time Stonehenge was built, the landscape around the area on Salisbury Plain was rather open with more farmland and grazing land, and less forest. Underneath the first few feet of soil on Salisbury Plain there was a substantial layer of hard chalk, which made building rudimentary structures somewhat easier for the people of the era. The first phase in building Stonehenge was that of the earth monument, which consisted of a circular bank of dirt (originally about 6 feet tall, now barely 2 feet tall) with a ditch running along the outside of the bank. There are two breaks in the ditch and bank, forming two entrances, and in addition there are 56 Aubrey Holes, named for John Aubrey, their discoverer, in a circle just inside the earth bank (Souden, 30). This first phase, Stonehenge I, built by the Windmill Hill people, took from about 2950 to 2900 BC to construct. Slightly more detailed than the first, the second phase of building Stonehenge involved the creation of a wooden monument. The postholes scattered about the floor of the monument are evidence for this stage. There seem to have been a roughly corridor shaped structure at the southern entrance of the earth monument, and a more detailed setting around the northeastern entrance (Souden, 32). The Avenue, made up of a pair of long, straight, and parallel ditches, was also said to have been part of this second phase of Stonehenge. Stonehenge II could be credited to the Beaker people, approximately betweens the years 2800 and 2300 BC. The third and most impressive stage of the monument is that of the stone monument. Since the building of this phase extended from about 2500 to 1600 BC, it was the longest and most complex of the three, and was so divided up into six sub phases. First in the sequence was the arrival of the bluestones (the first, and smaller, type of stone involved in Stonehenge III), and then the arrival of the sarsen stones (the larger, bulkier stones in Stonehenge III), followed by a possible bluestone arrangement, then the stones were erected to their final settings (after a little rearranging), and finally small holes called the X and Y holes were dug around the outside of the stone circles (Souden, 35). The builders of Stonehenge III were the people of the Wessex Culture, most likely in alliance with other peoples. It is understandable, through all of the complexity shown in the monument, that it many long hours to build and much patience and persistence to complete the construction. The bluestones had to be carried 200 to 250 miles from their source in the Prescelly Mountains back to the Stonehenge site. They were probably carried by waterways for most of the route because waterways are safer, quicker, and less difficult. One probably route was that the stones would be dragged to the coast nearest the Prescelly Mountains, then along the coast of the Bristol Channel, and then into the river systems of England, to the Stonehenge Avenue, and then the stones may have been carried up the Avenue toward the monument. (Hawkins, 65). The most simple was to transport the stones over land is by having a crew of men to haul the stones on rollers. Similar transport methods were used for the sarsen stones, however their location was much more close as the source of the sarsen stone was in the Marlborough Downs, only about 20 miles north of Stonehenge. There was somewhat of a clear land path for these stones to be carried on, so water transport was minimum. But these stones weighed about 30 tons each, and hauling these stones over 20 miles of hills could have easily used a total of 1,000 men and 7 years to be completed (Hawkins, 66). The sarsen stones were put into large holes in the ground, and joined to their lintels by a mortise-and-tenon joint, and the lintels joined to each other (in the outer circle) with a tongue-and-groove joint (Souden, 88). Much organization skills are needed to coordinate such a large number of men to perform the physical labor of constructing such a monument. The effort put into fabricating this monument is incomparable to anything that would be done today. When all of the constructing, refining, and arranging was finished, the resulting structure was extraordinary. There is an outermost circle (still considerably inside the ditch and bank) of 30 of the sarsen stones, each averaging 13 feet 6 inches tall (Niel, 28), and each connected by a lintel stone to each stone on either side. Just inside that circle of sarsens is a circle of bluestones, smaller stones which are usually not too much more than 6 feet tall. Inside of the bluestone circle is the trilithon horseshoe, or a horseshoe-shaped setting of sarsens in trilithons, or two sarsens standing next to each other with one lintel across the top. The open end of the horseshoe faces the northeast. Inside the trilithon horseshoe is a bluestone horseshoe. Inside the bluestone horseshoe, somewhat towards the center, is the altar stone, which might not have been used for that purpose. At the entrance to the monument, the heel stone stands just south of the line that runs down the center of the avenue, and not far off lies the slaughter stone, laying on the ground in the break of the circular bank. There are four station stones just inside the earth bank- one that points north, one that points to the south, and two that together make a line perpendicular to the axis of the avenue. The faces of all of the sarsen stones were dressed and shaped, and they were mostly given a convex shape to exaggerate the impression of grandeur one gets when looking up at the monuments. Being that there is little evidence for what Stonehenge could have been created, other than the people buried in and what we directly observe about the monument, there have been many hypotheses about its purpose, and many of these hypotheses seem to be appropriate. Among the most accepted of these conjectures is that the stone monument was meant to be a temple, a burial ground, and, seemingly the most apparent of these, a solar/lunar observatory. The main entrance of Stonehenge that has the Avenue’s opening, towards which the entire stone monument is situated, points directly at the sunrise on the summer solstice. When standing in the center of the monument, on the longest day of the year, one can see the sun rise directly over the heel stone. This seems to force a viewer to notice the sunrise on the longest day of the year. The original four “station stones” placed around the circle make many alignments to point to rise and set points of the sun and moon on winter and summer solstices. Noteworthy is that the combination of sun and moon solstice rise and set points could only be collectively arranged in a perfect rectangle at the latitude at which Stonehenge is situated. A few miles north or south and the combination would have to be a parallelogram. (Cohen, 8). In addition to the station stone alignments, each trilithon in the center horseshoe corresponds to certain alignments, as there are two sunset trilithons, a sunrise trilithon, and two for lunar alignments. (Hawkins, 109). Not only does this show that the builders and planners of Stonehenge had a great regard for the heavens, but also that they had great knowledge of geometry and science to be able to find exact angle measurements and proportions. It can also be seen that the Aubrey Holes could be used as a system of predicting eclipses. The 56 Aubrey Holes correspond to 3 cycles of the moon’s orbital wobble (The moon’s orbit wobbles in cycles of 18.66 years) and these could be used to line up with various solar alignments in Stonehenge to predict when the sun and moon would be at the same point in the sky. (White, 194). By a system of moving three markers around the 56 positions of the Aubrey holes, when all three were in the same spot, an eclipse was to occur. (Dimitrikopoulos, file: enigma.cfm). Within places in Stonehenge, such as the Aubrey Holes and the outer ditch, cremation remains of almost hundreds of people were found. This infers that Stonehenge was used as a primary burial site in the Stone and Bronze Ages*. Remarkable is that a great amount of cremations were found on the southeast side of the circle, which is where the moon rises at its most southerly point (Bragard, Ancient Voices). The many cultures of the Neolithic and Bronze ages seemed to have a preoccupation with death and the afterlife, and consequently took great regard to having the dead buried properly. In addition, since it is not possible to give each member of a society a proper burial in such a small area, the people must have had a hierarchical society in which some individuals had precedence over others for a glorious afterlife. As a place of worship, Stonehenge shows much detail and substance. Many of the celestial alignments put focus on things that are greater and more eternal than human beings, and these things could very well be the basis of the religion of the prehistoric cultures in the area. When seen from above, the lintels on the outer sarsen circle form a perfect circle that is impeccably level with the ground. Since this cannot be appreciated by people standing on the ground, it seems as if it is meant to be seen by someone above. (Niel, 33). The fixation with death and the afterlife among the peoples of Salisbury Plain seems to be a religion in itself. Perhaps the sun and moon gods, in being born and dying within their own cycles of rising and setting (and especially the moon’s cycle of growing dark and then bright again), could aid the soul of the human in being reborn in the afterlife. (Bragard, Ancient Voices). The strategy for showing their gods of their worth was clearly well thought-out and well planned by the builders and peoples of the Stone Age. The complexity and intelligence of the peoples of Stonehenge can also be seen in surrounding monuments created by them and their neighbors. Most of the enclosures and round barrows in the vicinity of Stonehenge were created for burial purposes, with one or two people buried within them, usually accompanied by valuables such as daggers, pottery, and in some cases, gold ornaments (Souden, 44). These treasures often represent high status or high political position, indicating a structured government and system of beliefs that the cultures of Salisbury Plain possessed. Stonehenge represents the evolving and changing society of prehistoric times that gradually changed into a well-developed society with rulers, priests, and a working and farming class, as well as relations with other cultures from far away with which to engage in trade and associate. The idea that men from the Stone Age were unintelligent, ill-mannered barbarians is far from the truth in the case of Stonehenge. The cultures of Windmill Hill, the Beaker people, and Wessex all thoroughly demonstrate organized systems and communities of the Stone and Bronze Ages.
Stonehenge, one of the great Seven Wonders of the World, but what do we really know about it. What was its purpose, how was it built and by whom. Many different answers come up when asking the question “What is Stonehenge?”
Behind every great structure in the world, there are the people who made them, and who took the time and effort to design them. Those who made Stonehenge succeeded in creating an incredibly complex and mysterious structure that lived on long after its creators were dead. The many aspects of Stonehenge and the processes by which it was built reveal much about the intelligence and sophistication of the civilizations that designed and built the monument, despite the fact that it is difficult to find out who exactly these people were. They have left very little evidence behind with which we could get a better idea of their everyday lives, their culture, their surroundings, and their affairs with other peoples. The technology and wisdom that are inevitably required in constructing such a monument show that these prehistoric peoples had had more expertise than expected.
The planning and assembling of Stonehenge took a very long time (about one thousand years, from 2800 BC to 1500 BC*), and not one but many different groups of people were involved in the process. How they came about plays an important role in understanding them. Some of the first men to come to England that are connected to the Stonehenge builders came when the ice blocking Britain and France melted around 10,000 BC. After them, many more groups of people came from the mainland, and had great influence on those already living there.
The first group involved in the building of Stonehenge was the Windmill Hill people. These people were semi nomadic farmers, mainly just keeping their flocks of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs, and growing wheat, who had arrived as some of the last Neolithic (or New Stone Age, 4300 – 2200 BC) newcomers in England. Not only were they farmers they also hunted, mined flint, made and traded axes, and could almost be called industrialists. The Windmill Hill people had a very strong religion with a great respect for their dead and their ancestors. They have exceptional collective graves, in the form of long barrows, or long manmade piles of dirt, sometimes 300 feet long. Many riches such as food, tools, and pottery were buried with the dead.
The next group to contribute to Stonehenge was the Beaker people; known for the beaker-like pottery they would frequently bury with their dead. These people did not practice the ritual of collective burials, rather single or double burials, and the dead were accompanied by more weapons such as daggers and axes. These single burials were in the form of round barrows. The Beaker people were well organized, active, and powerful, and also probably more territorial. They practiced commerce with other cultures, and their graves give an impression of there being an aristocracy in the society.
The last major group to put time into the construction of Stonehenge was the Wessex culture group. They arrived on Salisbury plain around 1400 BC, and were involved in building the most prominent part of Stonehenge- the great stone circles. These people were well organized, and probably less aggressive than their predecessors, while more industrious. The people of Wessex were less concerned with war than they were with art, peace, and trade. In the graves of their chieftains (the only members of society who were preserved for afterlife), were goods such as daggers, bows, and various other ornaments. Their access to such treasures can perhaps be attributed to their great international traders who probably traded with people from the Mediterranean Sea area. They built the final phase of Stonehenge, and perhaps brought about many cultural changes to the monument such as giving the monument visual magnificence and more astronomical precision.
It is necessary, in order to understand the complexity involved in the assembling of Stonehenge, to know the process by which and the environment in which the monument was built. By the time Stonehenge was built, the landscape around the area on Salisbury Plain was rather open with more farmland and grazing land, and less forest. Underneath the first few feet of soil on Salisbury Plain there was a substantial layer of hard chalk, which made building rudimentary structures somewhat easier for the people of the era.
The first phase in building Stonehenge was that of the earth monument, which consisted of a circular bank of dirt (originally about 6 feet tall, now barely 2 feet tall) with a ditch running along the outside of the bank. There are two breaks in the ditch and bank, forming two entrances, and in addition there are 56 Aubrey Holes, named for John Aubrey, their discoverer, in a circle just inside the earth bank. This first phase, Stonehenge I, built by the Windmill Hill people, took from about 2950 to 2900 BC to construct. Slightly more detailed than the first, the second phase of building Stonehenge involved the creation of a wooden monument. The postholes scattered about the floor of the monument are evidence for this stage. There seem to have been a roughly corridor shaped structure at the southern entrance of the earth monument, and a more detailed setting around the northeastern entrance. The Avenue, made up of a pair of long, straight, and parallel ditches, was also said to have been part of this second phase of Stonehenge. Stonehenge II could be credited to the Beaker people, approximately between the years 2800 and 2300 BC.
The third and most impressive stage of the monument is that of the stone monument. Since the building of this phase extended from about 2500 to 1600 BC, it was the longest and most complex of the three, and was so divided up into six sub phases. First in the sequence was the arrival of the bluestones (the first, and smaller, type of stone involved in Stonehenge III), and then the arrival of the sarsen stones (the larger, bulkier stones in Stonehenge III), followed by a possible bluestone arrangement. Then the stones were erected to their final settings (after a little rearranging), and finally small holes called the X and Y holes were dug around the outside of the stone circles. The builders of Stonehenge III were the people of the Wessex Culture, most likely in alliance with other peoples. It is understandable, through all of the complexity shown in the monument, that it many long hours to build and much patience and persistence to complete the construction. The bluestones had to be carried 200 to 250 miles from their source in the Prescelly Mountains back to the Stonehenge site. They were probably carried by waterways for most of the route because waterways are safer, quicker, and less difficult. One probable route was that the stones would be dragged to the coast nearest the Prescelly Mountains, then along the coast of the Bristol Channel, and then into the river systems of England, up the Stonehenge Avenue, and toward the monument. The most simple was to transport the stones over land is by having a crew of men to haul the stones on rollers.
Similar transport methods were used for the sarsen stones, however their location was much closer as the source of the sarsen stone was in the Marlborough Downs, only about 20 miles north of Stonehenge. There was somewhat of a clear land path for these stones to be carried on, so water transport was at a minimum. But, these stones weighed about 30 tons each, and hauling these stones over 20 miles of hills could have easily used a total of 1,000 men and 7 years to be completed.
The sarsen stones were put into large holes in the ground, and joined to their lintels by a mortise-and-tenon joint, and the lintels joined to each other (in the outer circle) with a tongue-and-groove joint. Much organization skills are needed to coordinate such a large number of men to perform the physical labor of constructing such a monument. The effort put into fabricating this monument is incomparable to anything that would be done today. When all of the constructing, refining, and arranging was finished, the resulting structure was extraordinary. There is an outermost circle (still considerably inside the ditch and bank) of 30 of the sarsen stones, each averaging 13 feet 6 inches tall, and each connected by a lintel stone to each stone on either side. Just inside that circle of sarsens is a circle of bluestones, smaller stones which are usually not taller than 6 feet. Inside of the bluestone circle is the trilithon horseshoe, or a horseshoe-shaped setting of sarsens in trilithons, or two sarsens standing next to each other with one lintel across the top. The open end of the horseshoe faces the northeast. Inside the trilithon horseshoe is a bluestone horseshoe. Inside the bluestone horseshoe, somewhat towards the center, is the altar stone, which might not have been used for that purpose. At the entrance to the monument, the heel stone stands just south of the line that runs down the center of the avenue, and not far off lies the slaughter stone, lying on the ground in the break of the circular bank. There are four station stones just inside the earth bank- one that points north, one that points to the south, and two that together make a line perpendicular to the axis of the avenue. The faces of all of the sarsen stones were dressed and shaped, and they were mostly given a convex shape to exaggerate the impression of grandeur one gets when looking up at the monuments.
Being that there is little evidence for what Stonehenge could have been created for, other than the people buried there and what we directly observe about the monument, there have been many hypotheses about its purpose, and many of these hypotheses seem to be appropriate. Among the most accepted of these conjectures is that the stone monument was meant to be a temple, a burial ground, and, seemingly the most apparent of these, a solar/lunar observatory. The main entrance of Stonehenge that has the Avenue’s opening, towards which the entire stone monument is situated, points directly at the sunrise on the summer solstice. When standing in the center of the monument, on the longest day of the year, one can see the sun rise directly over the heel stone. This seems to force a viewer to notice the sunrise on the longest day of the year. The original four “station stones” placed around the circle make many alignments to point to rise and set points of the sun and moon on winter and summer solstices. Noteworthy is that the combination of sun and moon solstice rise and set points could only be collectively arranged in a perfect rectangle at the latitude at which Stonehenge is situated. A few miles north or south and the combination would have to be a parallelogram. In addition to the station stone alignments, each trilithon in the center horseshoe corresponds to certain alignments, as there are two sunset trilithons, a sunrise trilithon, and two for lunar alignments. Not only does this show that the builders and planners of Stonehenge had a great regard for the heavens, but also that they had great knowledge of geometry and science to be able to find exact angle measurements and proportions.
It can also be seen that the Aubrey Holes could be used as a system of predicting eclipses. The 56 Aubrey Holes correspond to 3 cycles of the moon’s orbital wobble (The moon’s orbit wobbles in cycles of 18.66 years) and these could be used to line up with various solar alignments in Stonehenge to predict when the sun and moon would be at the same point in the sky. By a system of moving three markers around the 56 positions of the Aubrey holes, when all three were in the same spot, an eclipse was to occur. Within places in Stonehenge, such as the Aubrey Holes and the outer ditch, cremation remains of hundreds of people were found. This infers that Stonehenge was used as a primary burial site in the Stone and Bronze Ages. Remarkable is that a great amount of cremations were found on the southeast side of the circle, which is where the moon rises at its most southerly point.
The many cultures of the Neolithic and Bronze ages seemed to have a preoccupation with death and the afterlife, and consequently took great regard to having the dead buried properly. In addition, since it is not possible to give each member of a society a proper burial in such a small area, the people must have had a hierarchical society in which some individuals had precedence over others for a glorious afterlife. As a place of worship, Stonehenge shows much detail and substance. Many of the celestial alignments put focus on things that are greater and more eternal than human beings, and these things could very well be the basis of the religion of the prehistoric cultures in the area.
When seen from above, the lintels on the outer sarsen circle form a perfect circle that is impeccably level with the ground. Since this cannot be appreciated by people standing on the ground, it seems as if it is meant to be seen by someone above. The fixation with death and the afterlife among the peoples of Salisbury Plain seems to be a religion in itself. Perhaps the sun and moon gods, in being born and dying within their own cycles of rising and setting (and especially the moon’s cycle of growing dark and then bright again), could aid the soul of the human in being reborn in the afterlife. . The strategy for showing their gods of their worth was clearly well thought-out and well planned by the builders and peoples of the Stone Age.
The complexity and intelligence of the peoples of Stonehenge can also be seen in surrounding monuments created by them and their neighbors. Most of the enclosures and round barrows in the vicinity of Stonehenge were created for burial purposes, with one or two people buried within them, usually accompanied by valuables such as daggers, pottery, and in some cases, gold ornaments. These treasures often represent high status or high political position, indicating a structured government and system of beliefs that the cultures of Salisbury Plain possessed. Stonehenge represents the evolving and changing society of prehistoric times that gradually changed into a well-developed society with rulers, priests, and a working and farming class, as well as relations with other cultures from far away with which to engage in trade and associate. The idea that men from the Stone Age were unintelligent, ill-mannered barbarians is far from the truth in the case of Stonehenge. The cultures of Windmill Hill, the Beaker people, and Wessex all thoroughly demonstrate organized systems and communities of the Stone and Bronze Ages.



BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ancient Voices: The Secret of Stonehenge. Dir. Jean-Claude Bragard. Narrator Mark Hammil. Videocassette. BBC/Time Life, 1998.
Cohen, I.L. The Secret of Stonehenge. Greenvale, NY: New Research Publications, Inc., 1977.
Dimitrakopoulos, Sandra. (2000). Mystic Places: Stonehenge, Online}. Available HTTP: http://exn.ca/mysticplaces/stonehenge.cfm.
Hawkins, Gerald S. Stonehenge Decoded. New York: Doubleday, 1965.
Mackie, Euan. The Megalith Builders. Oxford: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1977.


Niel, Fernand. The Mysteries of Stonehenge. New York: Avon Books, 1975.
Service, Alastair, and Jean Bradbery. Megaliths and Their Mysteries. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1979.
Souden, David. Stonehenge Revealed. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1997.
White, John B. Afterward. Stonehenge Decoded. By Gerald S. Hawkins. New York: Doubleday, 1965. 191-197.

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