The group of huge, rough-cut stones is surrounded by mystery and redolent with romance. Riddle of the Ages is called Stonehenge — place of the “hanging stones”. It is situated on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, a county in southwestern England. It is the most famous and probably the most remarkable of all prehistoric monuments in the country.
At the hour of dawn, when the sun rises majestically over the ancient stones, it is very beautiful.
Stonehenge always captured the imagination of writers and thinkers. Archaeologists and astronomers have disputed and argued violently among themselves as to its origin, its age and its purpose and use through the dark centuries. But many questions remain unanswered.
How Old is Stonehenge?
Scientists thought that it was built by the Druids, members of the ancient Celtic order of priests, teachers of religion, and magicians. Many of their rites were connected with the worship of trees. They believed that the soul was immortal and entered a new body after death. The Druids killed animals as sacrifices and studied their remains to foretell the future. It is quite possible that the Druids used Stonehenge as a center for their religious ceremonies. But they did not build it…
The British archaeologist began making excavations in Wiltshire in the 1950’s that proved that the monument had existed at least a century before the time of the Druids. Researchers think that the construction of Stonehenge took its builders about hundreds of years to complete.
With the invention of radiocarbon dating, scientists were able to tell us that the oldest parts of Stonehenge were built around 5,000 years ago. This makes them older than the pyramids of Egypt!
Scientists now think that Stonehenge was built in three main phases, between 3000 BC and 1100 BC. They call these phases Stonehenge I, II and III.
Through the years, the great stones gradually fell, or people took them to make bridges and dams. Some stones were broken up by those who considered them pagan symbols.
In 1922, the British government began to restore Stonehenge.
How was it built?
Stonehenge is a circle made of huge blocks of stone. The largest stones weigh about 50 tons and are more than 9 meters long!
One of the mysteries of Stonehenge is how people transported the stones to Salisbury Plain. Historians now believe that the stones were pulled down to the sea by a large group of people and moved up the River Avon on special rafts. In 2000, however, a group of people tried to recreate the journey up the river, but they found it impossible!
The 12th-century writer, Geoffrey of Monmouth, believed that these huge stones were healing stones, called the Giant’s Dance and that they were magically brought to Salisbury Plain by Merlin, the wizard at King Arthur’s court.
Golden Dawn Ritual
Today, several groups in Great Britain and Ireland practice what they believe to be ancient Druidism. They hold Druidic festivals at the beginning of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The chief celebration takes place at Stonehenge on Midsummer’s Day. Every year they meet here to greet the raising sun and to perform their mystic rites. It is probably one of the most interesting and picturesque festivals in Britain.
Why was it built?
There are a lot of different theories about the original use of Stonehenge. Scientists have attributed it to the Phoenicians, Druids, Romans, Vikings, and visitors from other worlds. People even thought that the stones had a healing power.
The British scholars have shown that the stones and layout of Stonehenge were probably used to predict important astronomical events, such as eclipses. Some thought it was a temple of the sun.
Some people think that Stonehenge was an ancient cemetery as there are many graves around the monument.
Some people truly believe that Stonehenge was a landing pad for aliens.