The prehistoric monument of ‘Stonehenge’ is undoubtedly one of the most famous & recognizable sites in the world which is considered as England’s most iconic prehistoric ruins. The magnificent monument that took the Neolithic constructors more than 1000 years to build has been challenging the scholars for past several centuries as many mysteries associated to its true purpose are still unsolved! Although many theories were proposed speculating its purpose; ranging from an observatory to the temple of deities & from the burial ground of royalties to the ceremonial destination of religious pilgrimage, nothing can be said with authority.
‘Stonehenge’ is basically the ruins of massive standing stones erected in circular layout & enclosed within a huge circular ditch, or ‘Henge’ on Salisbury plain. It is located in Southern England, 8 miles north of Salisbury & believed to date back as early as 3000 BC. Radiocarbon dating in 2008 revealed that the initial stones were erected between 2400 & 2200 BC, whereas, another theory states that the innermost formation of bluestones at this place dates back to 3000 BC!
Today, this massive prehistoric structure has become UK’s one of the most prominent tourist hotspot which is visited by nearly 1 million people every year. UNESCO has also honored this imposing achievement of prehistoric man by including it in the list of ‘World Heritage Sites’ in 1986.
CONSTRUCTION OF STONEHENGE:-
The construction of ‘Stonehenge’ wasn’t completed within a time of a few years or decades. It was a long process that was continued for centuries after centuries & generations after generations!
Human bones dating back to 3000 BC have been recovered from the place of ‘Stonehenge’ suggesting the presence of crematory at this place. The circular earthwork consisting of a bank & ditch arrangement constitutes the earliest part of the monument that might have taken place in 3100 BC. It is speculated that the first Neolithic Britons used the primitive tools made from deer antlers & wood to dig this massive ditch.
Raising bluestones at Salisbury plain took place several centuries after digging of trench, roughly between 2400-2200 BC. The constructors raised nearly 80 bluestones & arranged them in either circular or horseshoe layout to form the inner circle of the structure. The bluestones weigh up to 4 tons each & they were believed to haul here all the way from the Prescelly Mountains in Wales, roughly 240 miles away from the location of ‘Stonehenge’! Many theories related to the transportation of these massive bluestones over such a huge distance have been portrayed & all of them regard this feat as the one of the most impressive features of this exceptional piece of architecture! The constructors of the ‘Stonehenge’ must have employed Herculean efforts & countless labors to erect this miraculous structure considering the absence of sophisticated engineering tools in the prehistoric era!
Construction of the outer crescent took place after a little while in 2000 BC & is regarded as even more daunting task than that of its previous achievement. Huge sarsen sandstone boulders, quarried from the Marlborough Downs, approximately 20 miles to the north, were assembled, encircling the inner bluestone structure, to form impressive three-pieced structures known as ‘Trithons’.
This achievement was even more imposing by the fact that each sersen boulder weigh as much as mammoth 50 tons! A recent study suggests that at least 600 men would have been employed just to haul a single boulder past ‘Redhorn Hill’, which was the steepest & probably the most challenging part of the route. Nearly 50 boulders are now located on the site & the work might had completed around 1500 BC.
BUILDERS OF THE STONEHENGE:-
The most celebrated mystery of this magnificent architecture has been concerned with the identity of its true builders! Most of the postulates underline the fact that the ‘Stonehenge’ was the result of the efforts taken by different tribes in different periods of time. Neolithic agrarians who were the local dwellers of the British Islands are undoubtedly the pioneers of this great work. The latter part of the work was supposedly accomplished by the tribes armed with advanced tools who did the same old work, but employed more advanced techniques than their ancestors. Another theory proposing the involvement of the immigrants from the European continent was also put forward by many historians; however, the theory was sidelined due to lack of sufficient archeological evidences to prove the point.
Whatever be the reason & whomsoever it may be regarded as its genuine constructor, one thing can be assured that the place must had held the highest regard in the lives of the ancients & hence, even today, this place has to be treated the way ancients treated it, as a place of honor & glory! ‘Stonehenge’ is undeniably ‘Britain’s Greatest National Icon’ that boasts the heritage of the Briton’s earliest residents!