The Mystery of Stonehenge

5000 years ago at a site near Amesbury, Wiltshire in England, someone decided to dig a serious of circular holes. Each of these holes was around a metre deep, a metre wide, and formed a part of a circle of 284 feet in diameter. Although human remains have been found, it is thought that the holes, known as ‘Aubrey Holes’, where originally excavated for some kind of religious ceremony. For whatever reason, the site was abandoned soon after its conception, and remained untouched for another 1000 years.

Then another ‘Bright-Spark’ had the brilliant idea of building a stone henge. Now, some of the rocks weighed around 4 tons, and just to make things a little more interesting, it was decided to bring in bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, some 240 miles away. Bear in mind, 4000 years ago a low-loader was out of the question. How they were moved, no-one knows for sure, but it is generally believed that the huge rocks were first inched along the coast of South Wales on rollers. That in itself is astonishing, but when you hear that the rocks were then loaded on to rafts and sailed up the rivers Avon and Frome, it becomes an almost superhuman effort. Back to the rollers again to move them overland to a place near modern day Warminster, then once more onto rafts to transport them on the River Wylye to Salisbury, and if that wasn’t enough, they then dragged them overland to where they are today. Let’s face it, no-one is going to move them again in a hurry. Imagine that journey, then multiply it by 82. Yes 82, that’s how many bluestones were moved from Wales, not counting any that may lie on the seabed through mishaps.
Anyway, after everyone had a nice cup of tea, the rocks were arranged in an incomplete double circle. The ‘Avenue’ was formed which aligned with the midsummer sunrise, and a pair of ‘Heel Stones’ were erected. Some of the stones were used as lintels, and if you’ve ever seen pictures of Stonehenge, it defies belief how these were ever lifted into position.

Why did they do it? Why did they go to all that trouble to create whatever Stonehenge is? I doubt very much that we’ll ever know with complete certainty, although the idea of a place of worship seems the most likely. There are other theories of course, such as the huge calendar idea. One of the problems is that Stonehenge was built by a culture with no written language, so there are no rock carvings to decipher. Over the years, the mystery of Stonehenge has been the focus of many books and debates, which have spawned some interesting theories. It’s not difficult to find someone who honestly believes that the rocks were placed in position by some extraterrestrial intelligence, or by time travellers who have yet to be born, but let me give you my theory; they’re nutters, and as for Stonehenge, I’m not even going to hazard a guess.

A more palatable theory was proposed by Mike Parker Pearson, the head of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. He suggests that Stonehenge was joined to Durrington Walls which lies two miles to the east. Durrington was the land of the living whilst Stonehenge was reserved for the dead, the journey between the two being the transition from life to death. Geoffrey Wainwright, of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and Timothy Darvill believe that Stonehenge was a place of healing.

It’s difficult to see how anyone can own such a place as Stonehenge, so let’s say that it has been looked after by some notable people, none more so than Henry V111, who having acquired Amesbury Abbey, gave Stonehenge and the surrounding land to the Earl of Hertford in 1540. It then passed to Lord Carleton and then to the Marquis of Queensbury. In 1824, the Antrobus family purchased the estate, but when in 1915, their last heir was killed during World War 1 they sold it by auction to one Cecil Chubb for £6,600, who subsequently handed it on to the nation.

1920 saw a nationwide appeal aimed at saving Stonehenge from being swallowed up by modern buildings, which were springing up in the vicinity. An aerodrome had been built during the war, and a road junction had appeared perilously close to the stones. In 1928, the land around Stonehenge was given to the National Trust in order to preserve the integrity of the landscape. Stonehenge was voted one of the Seven Wonders of Britain in 2002.

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