Stonehenge Neolithic Stone Circle, England



Stonehenge neoliyhic stone circle pictures, photos & images




The History of Stonehenge

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Stonehenge is the iconic show piece of a 43 square kilometres (27 Square Mies) UNESCO World Heritage Site full of Neolithic henges and prehistoric burial mounds. Instantly recognisable the megalithic stone ring of Stonehenge is one of the most famous prehistoric Neolithic Era monuments and one of the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric structures. It is not the biggest Neolithic Stone Ring, but it is unique for many reasons. It is unusual for henges, which is the name for the ditch around Stonehenge, to have standing stones inside them. Famous examples of this exception include nearby Avebury and The Ring of Brodgar on the Isle of Orkney. Unlike Avebury the henge around the stone circle of Stonehenge could almost be overlooked as the standing stones are so imposing. The crossing stones that sit on top of the huge upright megaliths capture the imagination. Even today it is hard to imagine had such heavy stones were transported, shaped and lifted on top of high stones without modern machinery. It is this conundrum that makes Stonehenge so compelling and makes us reconsider the sophistication of a society that existed 8000 or more years ago that left no written or any other tangible evidence of its existence.


Stonehenge Prehistoric Neolithic Era Stone Ring

The earliest record of activity at Stonehenge dates from 8000 BC. Until recently it was believed that in 3100 BC the first monument on the Stonehenge site was built consisting of a round ditch inside of which were 56 holes that may have contained standing wooden posts. In 2014 excavations by the University of Buckingham using ground penetrating radar revealed that an area extending to 12 square kilometres around Stonehenge appear to have had as many as 17 monuments like the early stonehenge dating to 4,000BC.


Around 2600 BC the use of wood posts was abandoned and the use of upright stones started. Between 2600 and 2400 BC 30 enormous Saracen stones were erected at Stonehenge. For the next 1000 years the site was developed the last known phase of construction being around 1600BC.


Stonehenge has been the centre of much academic speculation but it will never be known for certain what ceremonies took place at Stonehenge. Modern day Druids perform fictitious midsummer ceremonies at Stonehenge based on no known facts as to what ceremonies, if any, were carried out there. Excavations of Stonehenge by Mike Parker Parsons have produced 50,000 cremated bones and the remains of 63 individuals. It is clear then that from early times Stonehenge was the focus of burial rights. MiKe Parker Parsons has concluded that “Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C. The cremation burial dating to Stonehenge's Saracen stones phase is likely just one of many from this later period of the monument's use and demonstrates that it was still very much a domain of the dead”.


Stonehenge Prehistoric Neolithic Era Stone Ring

Neolithic sites throughout the UK are suggesting that ancestor worship was important for the Neolithic peoples. Stonehenge also has stones aligned with the sunrise on the mid summer solstice just as the entrance of Maes Howe in Orkney is aligned with the sunrise of the winter solstice. It is clear that both ancestor worship and the solstices were important to peoples of the Neolithic Era. Research at the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney has revealed that each of the stones came from a different part of the island leading to speculation that the ring was used a a meeting place for the different tribes of the island. Taking that the people that built both Stonehenge and Brodgar would have shared common customs then perhaps Stonehenge had a more social use than is evident at the moment.


Whatever Stonehenge was built for will probably never be known but it is still an incredible monument that really is thought provoking and demonstrates that our Neolithic ancestors were amazing engineers and lived in an incredibly well organised society that could come together to build great monuments that can stand the test of time.


Where Is Stonehenge?

 

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Coordinates: 51°10′43.84″N 1°49′34.28″W

Coordinates: 51.178844, -1.826189

 

Stonehenge Video

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