Have you seen a huge man-made circle of standing stones? Yes, that is the Stonehenge located at Salisbury Plain, England. Have you ever wondered why these stones are kept in such a way? The Stonehenge was built over many hundreds of years being one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments and a mysterious one too. Let us decode the mysteries in it.
It was around 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic period which was also known as the New Stone Age, which was the last and third part of the Stone Age. In India, it spanned from around 7,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C. The Neolithic Age is mainly characterized by the development of settled agriculture and the use of tools and weapons made of polished stones. Archaeologists believe the final changes were made around 1,500BC, in the early Bronze Age.
Stonehenge was made up of an outer circle of 30 standing stones called ‘sarsens’, which surrounded five huge stone arches in a horseshoe shape. There were also two circles made of smaller ‘bluestones’–one inside the outer circle and one inside the horseshoe–as well as four ‘station stones’ positioned outside the central monument. The entire site was surrounded by a circular ditch and bank, which also remains this day. The enormous stones of Stonehenge still stand strong in a circular arrangement and research shows that the structure of this amazing monument changed over time, as it was built and rebuilt by generations of ancient peoples.
The biggest mystery till date is how did people build this wonder? The lighter bluestones weigh about 3,600kg each, while the bigger sarsen stones each weigh a whopping 22 tonnes–that’s as heavy as four African elephants. Shaping the stones would have required hundreds of hours of hard graft with stone hammers and chisels. No theory has been proven to tell exactly how these large giant stones were transported and arranged in such a manner.
The next mystery is that no one has a clear idea of why it was actually built. But there are so many theories and among that, I will tell you one. Each year, on 21 June which is the longest day of the year, the sun always rises over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge – a single large sarsen stone which stands outside of the main monument. And the sun always sets over the Heel Stone on the shortest day of the year. Therefore, researchers believe that Stonehenge may have been a calendar, linked to the study of the stars.
Why don’t you go?
Each year, around 20,000 people gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky all year. It makes for a spectacular sunrise. So why don’t you visit one of the mysterious wonders on our planet?