Today visitors experience Stonehenge as a wonder of ancient achievement and enduring symbol of mystery. But Stonehenge was built as a temple – a place of ceremony, of burial and of celebration. The first Stonehenge was simple – just a circular ditch and bank, perhaps with a few small upright timber posts or stones – and was constructed about 5,000 years ago, in the period of prehistory known as the Neolithic or New Stone Age.

By about 2500 BC more and much larger stones had been brought to the site, huge sarsen stones from north west Wales. This marked the beginning of over 800 years of construction and alteration stretching into a period known as the Bronze Age, when the first metal tools and weapons were made. By this time Stonehenge was the greatest temple in Britain, its banks, sophisticated alignments to mark the passage of the sun and the changing seasons. But Stonehenge was just one part of a remarkable ancient landscape. Hundreds of burial mounds clustered on the surrounding hilltops, while smaller temples and other ceremonial sites were built nearby. Stonehenge and these other ancient structures from an archaeological landscape so rich that it is classified as a World Heritage Site.

Stonehenge has inspired people to study and interpret it for centuries. Medieval writers suggested magic as an explanation of how it was created; early antiquarians, like William Stukely in the early 18th century, guessed – wrongly – that the Druids had built it. archaeology still provides the best hope of answering some of these fundamental questions about Stonehenge: how and when it was built, who built it and, perhaps most difficult of all, why it was built. But even with the evidence that archaeology and modern science provide, not all the questions can be answered. Stonehenge will always keep some of its secrets.*

More detailed information can be found in the excellent English Heritage guidebook.


*From English Heritage Guidebooks – Stonehenge, step into England’s story, published 2013

4 Comments CherryPie on Jun 21st 2014

4 Responses to “Stonehenge”

  1. ubermouth says:

    I find this whole area fascinating. If I was younger, I would study either archeology or history as I am very interested in the Jacobean era.

    I love that at one time they thought they were built by magic. That made my day! :)

    Given that they believe the rocks came from hundreds of miles away, like the building of the cathedral, I find it incredible[and a real brain teaser] how they transported and erected them?

    I love your excursions,for with your photos, you take us along with you[although I could use a snack now and then, Cherie! :) ] You show us through an artists eye a perspective that we might not have seen otherwise. And I always love your history lessons as well. :)

    Can we go to Henry’s caste in Porstmouth sometime this summer? I would love to see pictures of the tunnels[which we nearly got stuck in at closing time!]. When there, I did not think to take a camera!

  2. james higham says:

    You went there for the solstice?

    • CherryPie says:

      Erm… No… I went there a couple of weeks ago for what you thought was my birthday. It wasn’t… the clue was in the tags!!!