Mysterious Stonehenge in England
As one of the most readily recognized attractions in the world, Stonehenge lies in the center of a range of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and burial mounds in the county of Wiltshire in England. Archaeological evidence suggests that at one time there were an estimated 80 megaliths at this site, of which only 17 remain. The megaliths of Stonehenge are arranged in concentric circles and horseshoe patterns, with the largest standing at a height of 6 meters and weighing 45,000 kilograms. Taking into account the sheer size of the stones, the fact that some were moved a distance of up to 30 kilometers from a mountain quarry using primitive transportation methods is amazing, but the real mystery lies with who built them and what their purpose was. It may be this element of mystery that makes Stonehenge even more appealing to the tens of thousands of visitors it receives each year.
Determining when Stonehenge was built would be extremely helpful in determining who built it, which could lead to an understanding of why it was built. Latest scientific estimates are that Stonehenge was erected somewhere between 3000 BC and 1500 BC, probably taking some time to complete in stages. Previously, archaeologists set the construction date at around 2400-2200 BC, but some believe that the bluestones of the site were likely erected as early as 3000 BC with the circular ditch and banked earth dating back as far as 3100 BC.
For quite some time it was widely accepted that the Celtic priesthood, known as Druids, had erected Stonehenge. However, as scientific methods of dating archaeological discoveries advanced, it was concluded that Stonehenge was constructed approximately 1,000 years before the Druids existed. Through modern scientific methods a timeline has been put together detailing each phase of the construction of Stonehenge, from 3100 BC, through to the last known addition in 1600 BC.
Why Stonehenge was built has been the subject of wide speculation and dozens of theories. The most accepted theory being that, with its headstone oriented toward the summer solstice, Stonehenge was an astronomical calendar. Another theory is that it was used for religious ceremonies, which may go hand-in-hand with it being an astronomical calendar. Archaeologists, paleontologists and scientists have spent years and years painstakingly uncovering and evaluating everything on and around the Stonehenge site. However, who built Stonehenge, and why, remains a mystery.