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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Stonehenge Stone Circle




Finally Stonehenge Stone Circle itself!

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

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

The word henge, which gave its name to Stonehenge, describes a large earth oval, separated by a ditch and a mound.

Henges could be massive - Avebury, just down the road, measures 300m in diameter.

They could also be tiny - such as those surrounding small cremation stone or wood circles.

Fun fact : it's thought that henges were built with the ditch facing outwards and the mound facing inwards to protect the outside world from what was within!

Around 8000 BC, a line of 4 timber posts was erected at Stonehenge.

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

Around 3500 BC a large flat rectangular area, 3km-long, was dug out, delimited by long ditches, the "cursus".

Finally around 3000 BC, the henge was built and in 2600 BC, two small stone circles were added.

Stone circles are not unique to Stonehenge.

Indeed, they appeared in France around 5000 BC and reached Britain 2000 years later.

More than 1,300 have been found in Britain.

But the scale of Stonehenge is unique.

Stone circles were not meant to be inhabited but were used for ceremonial purposes.

The stones used in this first stone circle came from Wales, 250km away!

It's not known exactly how they were transported, but it's possible that they were dragged over a track of logs or pulled on sledges sliding on animal fat.

People buried on the site are thought to have come from the same place in Wales as the stones.

Nobody knows who they were.

The initial, smaller, Welsh stones were then at one point replaced by the larger stones we now see.

These come from a quarry 25km away.

There are 30 altogether, 4m high, connected to each other by lintel stones, attached by a system of tongues and grooves.

They weigh up to 50 tons each!

Two smaller bluestone circles were added further - one as an outer ring, one as an inner ring - as well as two concentric lines of pits on the outside.

Near the river is another much smaller stone circle, where bodies are thought to have been cremated before being carried up to the main stone circle.

In this direction also stands a single standing stone, the Heel Stone - which perfectly aligns with Stonehenge during the Summer and Winter Solstices - and whose purpose is unknown.

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)


Avebury Stone Circle

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