Top 15 Interesting Stonehenge Facts
Despite millions of visitors travelling to theUnesco World Heritage site of Stonehenge every year, we are no closer to knowing how and why the stone circle of Stonehenge was placed today despite much research and theorizing. The most significant historical enigma is Stonehenge. The unusual stone circle in contemporary Wiltshire, one of the most well-known sights in Britain, continues to baffle both scholars and visitors. Here at StonehengeVisit.co.uk we have collated 15 things about Stonehenge that we do know despite its obscurity.
Remember, when when visiting Stonehenge, there are plenty of places to stay near Stonehenge and you can purchase discount tickets to Stonehenge on the day! Now, lets get to the facts about Stonehenge…
Fact 1: Stonehenge was constructed over several decades in phases
The ancient monument didn’t start out as a circle of stones; instead, it underwent several changes beginning more than 5,000 years ago.
Phase 1: Believed to have begun in the early bronze age (around 3000 BC), it involved the construction of a circular ditch and bank, known as a henge, which was surrounded by a circle of 56 pits known as the Aubrey Holes.
Second Phase: In the second phase, which is thought to have taken place around 2900 BC, a ring of standing stones, known as the Sarsen Circle, was erected within the henge. The Sarsen Circle consisted of 30 standing stones, each weighing around 25 tons.
Third Phase: Thought to have occurred around 2500 BC, a circle of smaller standing stones, known as the Bluestones, was erected inside the Sarsen Circle. The Bluestones are believed to have been brought from Wales, and they are thought to have had a special meaning to the people who constructed Stonehenge.
Fourth Phase: Is thought to have taken place around 1500 BC, when the Altar Stone, the Slaughter Stone, and the Heel Stone were added to the monument. These stones may have been used for ritual or ceremonial purposes.
Overall, Stonehenge was constructed over several thousand years and involved the labour of many people.
Fact 2: Different stone types were used to make up Stonehenge
Stonehenge was built from two types of stone: sarsen and bluestone.
Sarsen stones: These make up the outer circle of the monument, they are large sandstone blocks that were quarried from the Marlborough Downs, and they are found about 20 miles (32 kilometres) from Stonehenge. The sarsen stones are hefty, weighing an average of 25 tonnes each and are believed to have been transported to the site using wooden sledges and ropes.
Bluestones: These make up the inner circle of the monument; they are smaller than the Sarsen stones and are made of a type of igneous rock known as dolerite. The bluestones are thought to have been transported to the site from the Preseli Hills in Wales, which is over 150 miles (240 kilometres) away. No one knows precisely how the bluestones were transported to Stonehenge, but it is believed that they could have been transported by water and then dragged overland to the site.
The use of both sarsen and bluestone in the construction of Stonehenge is unique. Despite all the academic work, the significance of these two types of stone to the formation of Stonehenge is still not fully understood.
Fact 3: It is still unclear how the stones were moved into their current position
One of the major mysteries is how the huge rocks travelled from a long distance and ended up at Stonehenge. The bluestones weigh between 2 to 5 tons individually, compared to the typical saddens tone’s weight of 25 tons. There are many explanations for how these stones got to Stonehenge, one of which is that glaciers transported the bluestones. The most plausible explanation is that people moved them over land and through a system of rivers.
Fact 4: Incredible engineering marvels were required to construct Stonehenge
Getting the stones to stand up required pure imagination. In the end, the builders chose a more commonly used method in woodworking than masonry. They used tongue and groove joints to slot the stones together, creating mortice holes and projecting tenons. Timber poles were positioned at the rear of the hole when it was dug for the stones to act as brace support. After that, the stone was placed and hoisted upward using ropes while the pit was filled with debris to keep the stone in place.
Fact 5: Roman artefacts have been found at Stonehenge
During the several excavations at Stonehenge, a variety of Roman artefacts, including pottery, stone and metal objects, and coins, have been discovered. Many of these items can be seen in the exhibition hall of the visitor centre at the entrance of Stonehenge.
Fact 6: Astronomy has long been connected to Stonehenge
According to English Heritage research from 2010, Stonehenge has a lengthy and intriguing link with astronomy. This is especially true given that the monument is oriented to coincide with both the winter and summer solstices’ dawn and sunset. William Stukeley, a pioneering British archaeologist, made the initial discovery of this in 1720. Since then, a large number of well-known astrologers have investigated Stonehenge in an effort to draw parallels between its design and the stars.
Fact 7: No written documents were left when Stonehenge was erected
This is the fundamental cause of the site’s overwhelming mystery and myriad unresolved questions.
Fact 8: There is a fable about King Arthur and Stonehenge
Stonehenge was allegedly carried from Ireland, where it had been constructed by ancient giants, and erected on Salisbury Plain as a monument to the 3,000 noblemen who were killed in battle with the Saxons.
Fact 9: Stonehenge could have been a cemetery
50,000 bones were discovered at the site in 2013, including the cremated remains of 63 men, women, and children. These bones are 3500–25000 years old. This implies that Stonehenge may have served as a cemetery at some point in the past particularly with burial mounds being located at Stonehenge.
Fact 10: According to some, Stonehenge was a component of a wider holy region
The Salisbury Plain grounds, where Stonehenge is situated, are a chalk plateau that covers more than 300 square miles. Although Stonehenge may have served as a cemetery, it is not the area’s first religious structure. Salisbury Plain may have been a holy location before Stonehenge, as evidenced by the nearly 10,000-year-old age of three enormous timber pillars that were constructed on the property.
A number of secret Neolithic shrines were discovered in 2014 as a result of a four-year scientific investigation that used radar and non-invasive methods to examine the region. This finding adds additional support to the idea that Stonehenge was only one small component of a much larger puzzle.
Fact 11: The “Ringing Rocks” have therapeutic properties
The stones of the monument have strange therapeutic and sonic qualities. They vibrate and make a loud clanging noise when stuck. This might help to explain why they had to go such a great distance. Many ancient societies thought that these pebbles held the ability to cure, and vibrational frequencies are frequently commended for their therapeutic benefits. Maenclochog really translates as “ringing rock.”
Fact 12: Stonehenge has a circle with 56 pits
The Aubrey Holes, a circle of 56 holes, are located inside the enclosure (named after John Aubrey, who discovered them in 1666). Its actual use is still unknown. However, some people think the trenches previously contained stones or posts.
Fact 13: Stonehenge’s oldest realistic depiction is a 16th century work of art
Even though the stones have been around for a very long time, it wasn’t until sometime between 1573 and 1575 that the first realistic picture was created on the spot.
Fact 14: Charles Darwin identified the cause of the stones sinking
When he noticed that the monument was sinking during some of the first scientifically documented excavations at the location in the 1880s, Charles Darwin came to the conclusion that earthworms were mostly to blame.
Fact 15: It was the 20th century that saw Stonehenge fall into a sad condition
According to English Heritage, there were over 10 documented excavations at the site by the turn of the 20th century, which caused some of the sarsens to tilt and turned it into a “terrible state.” The Society of Antiquaries then approaches Sir Edmond Antrobus, the site’s owner, and offers to assist with restoration.
Interested in visiting the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge and finding out more interesting facts and theories?
Staying in London? Check out these London to Stonehenge Tours on offer…
Adults: £135 Child: £126
An inner circle tour of Stonehenge and the UK…
Stonehenge Inner Circle Tour, Bath and Lacock Day Trip with Dinner
Adults: £102 Child: £99