Facts about Stonehenge you probably didn’t know
Pexels1,500 years to complete, this circular wonder has caught the imagination of thousands throughout the centuries. Despite the widespread curiosity, questions like “who made Stonehenge?”, “how did they make it?”, and “why was it made?” are still unanswered today.
What makes Stonehenge so interesting
In a similar fashion to the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge shouldn’t exist according to our current understanding of human history. Stonehenge is made up of many large stones, or sarsens. These can stand up to 30 feet tall and typically weigh upwards of 25 tons. In addition, researches have determined that it is likely that these sarsens came from a quarry at least 20 miles away. Our current understanding of the progression of human technology cannot explain how people 5,000 years ago were able to move, lift, and place stones of this size.
In addition, the stones are positioned in such a way, that on the summer and winter solstices, the sun rises or sets perfectly to align directly with the stones. It is believed that this was done intentionally and it is likely that those who created Stonehenge were nature worshippers who held these days as sacred. This has drawn modern-day nature-worshippers and self-proclaimed “druids” to the monument on the summer solstice. The event has not always gone well and at one point in the 1980s, things escalated between visitors and the police. Since that time, things have not gotten out of hand again.
Over many centuries, many people have put forth theories about Stonehenge. One popular theory holds that the monument was erected by the druids, who were known as teachers and wise men and were thought to be connected to the gods. This is not likely, but things are complicated by the fact that there are no records of druids dating back far enough to be certain. Back in the twelfth century, stories began being told connecting the legendary king Arthur with Stonehenge. According to these legends, the wizard Merlin constructed the monument, some say, with the help of a giant. But research suggests that these stories were created and circulated for political purposes, and hold no element of truth.
One modern doctor claims that Stonehenge was designed to resemble the process of childbirth. If true, it’s possible that the purpose of Stonehenge was to connect with and reinforce the idea of “Mother Earth.”
Another popular theory is the idea that Stonehenge was intended to be a place of rituals and healing, which ties in well with the previous theory. There is some evidence to support this claim, as researchers have found significant numbers of burials nearby. Examination of the remains showed that most who were buried there had been sick or injured before their death. Local lore for hundreds of years has held the belief that Stonehenge holds healing powers. Possibly a carryover from the time when Stonehenge served as an ancient hospital of sorts. Of course, no one really knows what Stonehenge was used for exactly.
Henges… henges everywhere
While Stonehenge is the most well-known henge in England, it certainly isn’t the only one. There are actually hundreds of henges and their ruins scattered throughout the island. In fact, roughly two miles away from Stonehenge lies the buried remains of another, which is said to have been 15 times the size. This has been referred to as a “super-henge” by scholars. In addition, there is another nearby henge known as Woodhenge and a smaller stone-henge about a mile away.
For many years, it was thought that only Great Britain had henges. With the discovery of a wooden henge in Germany, this belief is being reconsidered. The most disturbing part of this discovery, however, is what researchers found at the “German Stonehenge.” There was evidence of potential ritualistic killings of women and children. The remains suggested the killings had been extremely brutal. Some scholars pointed out the possibility that the remains might have come from a raid by an enemy group instead. We may never know what, if any, connection these henges have, or what purpose they were intended for.
Fun facts about Stonehenge
Some of the stones from Stonehenge have gone missing over the years, and at this point are unlikely to be returned. In addition, there have been problems with groups of people damaging the monument. Everything from stuck gum and graffiti, to relieving business and chipping away at stones has taken place. In fact, climbing on the stones and using chisels to take a piece home used to be encouraged to visitors. This is no longer the case due to the damage these things caused.
In the 1800s, Charles Darwin was studying the value of earthworms and conducted some of his research at Stonehenge. He observed that some of the stones had sunk into the ground. This led to his discovery that the movement of earthworms can cause heavy objects to sink into the ground over time.
Back in the early 1900s, Stonehenge was privately owned for a short time by a wealthy local man. He purchased it from the wealthy family which had previously owned the land for a long time before. Not too long after making the purchase, he decided to donate the land to the British government on the condition that it be cared for. He also requested that it remains open to the public. In return, the British government gave him a knighthood.