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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Stonehenge Stone Circle



Finally Stonehenge Stone Circle itself!

Stonehenge was built within a pre-existing network of hundreds of prehistoric monuments, in a highly ceremonial area.

There seems to have been a flourish of construction at the end of the Stone Age in the area - nobody quite knows why!

The construction of Stonehenge lasted more than 1,500 years.

The word henge - which gave rise to the name Stonehenge - describes a large oval, separated by a human-made ditch and mound.

Building one was a gargantuan endeavour, as humans only had polished stone axes and deer antlers to work with.

Henges can be massive - neighbouring Avebury measures a massive 300m in diameter.

They can also be tiny - like those surrounding small cremation circles.

Stone circles weren't inhabited - they were used for ceremonial purposes.

It's thought they were built in such a way - with the ditch facing outwards and the mound facing inwards - to protect the outside world from what was within!

Stone circles are not unique to Stonehenge.

They appeared in France around 5000 BC and reached Britain around 3000 BC.

There are more than 1,300 in Britain and Ireland today.

But the scale of Stonehenge and Avebury is unique.

The first trace of construction on the Stonehenge site was 8000 BC, when a line of 4 timber posts was erected.

Around 4000 BC the land was deforested and a massive causewayed enclosure and long barrow tombs built.

Around 3500 BC a large flat rectangular area of 3 x 0.1km, was built, delimited by long ditches, the "cursus".

Finally around 3000 BC, the first stone circle itself was built.

It started with the henge - the large flat oval area of land separated by a ditch and earth mound.

Then around 2600 BC, two small stone circles were added.

These stones came from Wales, 250km away!

It's not known exactly how they were transported, but it's thought they would have been dragged on a track of logs or pulled on sledges sliding on animal fat!

Human remains found on site are thought to have come from the same place in Wales where the stones came from!