Some of the bigger stones (up to 50 tonnes) were more locally sourced. It would have taken 500 men using leather ropes to pull one stone. Antlers and bones were used to dig the massive holes for the stones. Experts have worked out that the site's construction required more than thirty million hours of labour.
Stonehenge is thought to date from 3,000 BC and is the most celebrated prehistoric monument in Britain. It was built in three stages, and consists of three concentric circles, aligned with the rising sun at the solstice. Some of the stones, weighing nearly four tonnes each, originated from the Welsh mountains, an astonishing 240 miles away. How they got there continues to intrigue the archaeologists, but is thought to involve giant rollers, rafts, and a lot of dragging.
Standing in front of this staggering structure, it's hard not to ask yourself: why? Many people think the stones are part of a huge astronomical calendar, that can be used to calculate the rising and setting of the moon, and predict eclipses. Certainly, every year, on Midsummer's Day, a person can stand in the exact centre of the circle and know that the rising sun will shine directly on him through a line of stone pillars. Some think it was built as an ancient temple for sun worshipping. Another popular theory is that the Druids, the high priests of the Celts, constructed it for sacrificial ceremonies. Others have speculated that the stones were put there by the Devil, or aliens.
Ultimately, it remains one of the biggest mysteries in the Universe...
Address: Stonehenge, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 7DE
Contact details for English Heritage:
Telephone: 0370 333 1181
Website: English Heritage - Stonehenge
Directions from A303: Two miles west of Amesbury and clearly signposted from the A303, off the A360. Postcode for sat nav: SP4 7DE
Admission times: Mon - Sun 9.30-7, last entry at 5
Admission charge: See website as charges vary. English Heritage and National Trust England members are admitted free.
Parking: Parking is available on site. During peak periods, there is a parking charge to non-members and those who have not prebooked tickets which is fully refundable on purchase of a ticket to Stonehenge. There are dedicated parking spaces for motorhomes.
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Staying in London? Then take a private chauffeur-driven tour to Stonehenge. Get picked up from London and see other great UK attractions on the way to the ancient stones. Arrange with your tour guide for a multi-day tour to Exeter or further into the West Country.