Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England, is the most famous stone circle in the world. No one is quite sure how or why it was built – some people think it might have been a giant calendar.
Archaeologists think Stonehenge was built in three phases over a period of time beginning in about 3000 BC. The original part of the structure was a large circular ditch and bank called a henge. The famous standing stones were added over a period of almost 200 years. The 82 bluestone were brought to the site first. Many people believe that they were dragged and carried on rafts from quarries in South Wales, over 350 kilometers away.
The largest stones, called Sarsen Stones, were the final addition. These were places in pairs, each pair supporting a massive horizontal lintel.
At Avebury, which is about 30 kilometers away from Stonehenge, you can clearly see the ancient henge. The enormous circular ditch is more than 10 metres deep and has a circumference of more than one kilometer.
Thousands of people gather at Stonehenge every year on Midsummer’s Day to watch the sunrise and celebrate the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Most people think that Stonehenge was once a very important place for religious meetings. Some archaeologists suggest that it was used to look at the movements of the Sun and Moon.
- The tallest archway at Stonehenge stands 7.7 metres high.
- The bluestones are so called because they turn blue when wet.