For over 2,000 years, the world has been trying to explain the mysterious megalithic monument that is now known as Stonehenge. Today, it’s still a mystery.
Stonehenge was built in about 3100 BCE by people who lived in what we call prehistory — before written history. And while there are many theories, archaeologists have never put forward one that fully explains all of the site’s mysteries. But they’ve come close.
There are two types of “mystery” at Stonehenge. The first has to do with the construction of the site itself and how it came into existence. The second involves the site’s purpose.
We don’t know when or where the original settlers came from. We only know that they were farmers. They must have arrived on foot because their settlement would not have been possible if they had used horses, camels, carts or boats. There is evidence that these people made fire, so they might have traveled by firelight. However, there is no proof that they came by land or sea.
But even though we don’t yet know how the early settlers got to Britain, we do know that they lived in roundhouses — small houses covered by conical roofs. These homes were probably made of wattle and daub (rocks mixed with straw). The early settlers also raised crops such as wheat and barley, and kept sheep and goats for meat.
So the earliest settlers appear to be agriculturalists. Then something happened that changed everything: The climate changed. The summers became longer and hotter. It wasn’t long before the summers became too hot for farming. So the settlers abandoned their farms and moved south to warmer areas in search of water and better grazing.
This migration probably took place around 4200 BCE. This migration occurred during the middle Neolithic period, which lasted roughly four thousand years. During this time, early Britons began to build monuments. Their first monuments were simple burial mounds, but then they began building more elaborate monuments.
In fact, some of the best examples of this culture can be found at Stonehenge. Most of Stonehenge consists of massive stones arranged in circular patterns. The largest stone is called Salisbury Hill. Its base measures about 100 feet high and 40 feet wide.
Some experts believe that the builders of Stonehenge knew how to cut large rocks. Stonehenge may have been an outdoor museum, a place where people could go to remember important events and celebrate rituals.
Other experts think that Stonehenge was a religious place. Some believe that the builders of Stonehenge worshipped the sun, moon and stars. Others say that Stonehenge was a place of healing, where patients went to get treated for diseases like tuberculosis, leprosy and other illnesses that we no longer have names for.
There’s also evidence that Stonehenge was part of a larger community. In fact, the people who built Stonehenge were probably members of a society that contained numerous villages and towns. Archaeologists have discovered thousands of pieces of pottery left behind by the builders of Stonehenge.
There are dozens of different styles of pottery at Stonehenge. Some of them were decorated with geometric designs. Other pottery was painted red, yellow, ochre or black. Other pots are plain white.
And just as some of the people who lived in these settlements seem to have been religious healers, others appear to have been shamans, priests or medicine men.
So Stonehenge may have been both a sacred center and a ceremonial center. It was probably a place of healing and a place of worship. In addition, Stonehenge may have been a political center, a place where people met to discuss matters of state.
It’s interesting to note that the same basic pattern appears throughout the world. Everywhere you find Stonehenge-like sites, they contain structures surrounded by concentric circles of stones.
However, there is another kind of structure at Stonehenge. These are called henges. A henge is basically a circle of stones enclosing a ditch. The ditch is filled with earth, and sometimes the outer wall of the henge is lined with stones.
Some experts believe that henges were places of worship. Other experts believe that they were places of defense. Still other experts believe that henges were used to mark out tribal territories. All of these theories remain unproven.
A person should have the detail of the various types of the Stonehenge that are available for people. Having the complete detail of the various visit Stonehenge is the choice of the people. In the long run, the option will prove to be the best one. A person should gather the detail and then visit the place that will be an attention.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two kinds of mysteries at Stonehenge. One concerns the site itself; the other concerns its purposes.
First, let’s look at the site itself. I mentioned above that the most famous piece of archaeology at Stonehenge is known as the Bluestones, or “the Stones.” These are three huge boulders weighing over 50 tons each. They’re almost perfectly cylindrical, measuring about five feet in diameter and eight feet tall.
These stones, along with several smaller stones, were transported to Stonehenge from somewhere else. But where? Some experts believe that they were brought here from Wales. Others believe that they were imported from Ireland. Still others believe that they were brought from somewhere in central Europe.
Why did the builders bring these stones to Stonehenge? What was the purpose of the stones? There aren’t any answers to these questions. All of the experts agree that the builders of Stonehenge weren’t using them for anything other than decoration.
Now let’s consider the other kind of mystery, one that has nothing to do with the site itself. It has to do with the reasons why people built Stonehenge. Why did people build Stonehenge? That’s the mystery that archaeologists haven’t been able to figure out.
I’ll give you an example. Some archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was built by people migrating northward from southern England. They claim that Stonehenge was a sort of stepping stone, a way station between southern England and northern England. However, they can’t prove this theory.
Another group of archaeologists believes that Stonehenge was built by migrating hunter-gatherers. They believe that Stonehenge marks the spot where these prehistoric peoples crossed a river. They argue that the builders of Stonehenge followed the course of the river.
Still another group of archaeologists believes that Stonehenge was built by people fleeing war. They believe that the builders of Stonehenge fled the area following a battle between rival tribes.
There are hundreds of theories about Stonehenge. But none of these theories have been proven correct. For example, there isn’t any archaeological evidence to suggest that Stonehenge was a political center.
What’s amazing about Stonehenge is that we still don’t really understand why people built this monument.
Today, experts agree that Stonehenge was built by agriculturalist farmers who migrated from somewhere in southern England. And since Stonehenge was built after the climate changed, the migrants probably came from the warmest region in Britain.
They probably settled in southwestern Britain, near Cornwall. And they were likely descendants of the people who originally inhabited southern England.
Stonehenge was built by farmers who traveled by foot. It’s estimated that the journey was about 500 miles. To make the trip, the farmers probably carried their tools and food on their backs.
After arriving, the farmers cleared trees from the area. This allowed them to live in the open without being bothered by predators. The farmers then set up their fields, planted their crops and waited for the harvest.
When the crops grew to maturity, the farmers ate them. But before the harvest, the farmers needed to store enough food to see them through the winter. And since the weather was often cold and wet, the farmers needed to protect their precious food from getting rotten.
So the farmers constructed Stonehenge. When the summer months were warm, they moved their families and livestock to Stonehenge. When the winters started coming, they returned to Stonehenge with their harvest.
During the winters, the farmers were forced to stay inside Stonehenge, protected from the elements. During the summers, they stayed outside to work.
The farmers probably gathered stones from nearby hillsides. They probably didn’t have the technology to quarry stone from the ground. Instead, the farmers probably hauled stones to the top of the hill.
Once the stones were on the ground, the farmers shaped them into blocks. Then the farmers used wooden wedges to bind the blocks together. Finally, the farmers piled dirt and vegetation around the blockage. After this layer hardened, the farmers removed the dirt.
Then they erected wooden frames over the holes created by removing the dirt. They put up poles to support the frame. They then covered the whole thing with bark.
Nowadays, no one has ever seen the people who built Stonehenge. No one knows exactly how old the monument is, or how long it took to construct. But it’s clear that the builders of Stonehenge were farmers.