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Stonehenge is, perhaps, the most famous architectural structure of the Neolithic age. An impressive monument that had withstood the test of time, it stands as a testament of skill and ingenuity to the people who had built it and as an eternal mystery to the archeologists studying it. Many questions are asked about it, but very few are answered. What is Stonehenge? How was it built? Who built it? What was its purpose? The archeologists cannot tell us precisely. The only thing we could say for sure is that the structure was erected over 5,000 years ago (Stonehenge, 2016). Although the purpose of this magnificent stone monument remains unclear, the place certainly holds great significance for the people who built it.
Who Built Stonehenge?
So, who built it? According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, who wrote the tale of King Arthur, Stonehenge was created through Merlin’s magic. For quite a long while such an explanation was deemed as acceptable – it was hard to imagine anybody lifting such stones without the supernatural aid (Stonehenge, 2016). However, modern tests have determined that Stonehenge is far more ancient than that. The construction of the monument was attributed to many nations – from Danes to Egyptians. However, the majority of the scientific community is now in accord that the natives of the British Isles built Stonehenge.
These natives were the ancestors of the ancient Britons. Nobody knows for sure how they did it, but the archeological studies indicate the construction took several stages, with several hundreds of years between each. At first, they used primitive tools made from deer antlers to dig holes for the wooden trunks. The first variation of Stonehenge was likely made out of wood. The stones appeared several hundred years later. The technology available to the tribes must have advanced to be able to ferry the large bluestones from the Preseli Hills in Wales all the way to Salisbury plain. The archeologists are unsure how exactly the stones ended up so far away from their place of origin. Some suggest they were ferried by the rivers, while others think they were dragged with the use of sleds made out of tree trunks (History, 2016).
The Significance of Stonehenge to the Neolithic Britons
It is plausible that the monument held a huge significance to the ancient Britons. The amount of trouble they must have gone through to build such a complex and impressive monument serves as a testament to that claim. What was it used for, exactly? Again, the archeologists cannot give us a precise answer. There is strong evidence that Stonehenge served as a burial site, likely reserved for the rich and important members of the ancient society. It possibly had other functions as well. A popular theory states that Stonehenge was used to study the stars and the cosmos, acting like a lunar calendar (Witcombe, 2008). It could have been a place of physical and spiritual healing as well, as the bluestones used in its construction are said to possess healing and regenerative powers.
The real purpose of Stonehenge will remain unknown to us. The more time passes, the less likely we are to discover it. Still, the magnificent remains of what could be the only architectural monument of the Neolithic age would forever remind us of the gaps in our knowledge of the world. Perhaps the ancient people were not as primitive as we think.
History (2016). Web.
Stonehenge. (2016). Web.
Witcombe, C.L.C.E. (2008). Archaeoastronomy at Stonehenge. Web.