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Stonehenge

- Stonehenge -
Stonehenge is a Neolithic site located near Amesbury in Wiltshire, England, about 8 miles northwest of Salisbury. It is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones, known as megaliths. There is some debate about the age of the Henge[?], but most archaelogists think that it was constructed between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. The older circular earth bank and ditch have been dated to about 3100 BC. In more recent years, the setting of the henge[?] on Salisbury Plain[?] has been by affected by the proximity of the A303[?] road between Amesbury and Stoke.

The site was added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. It is similar to the circle of stones in northern Scotland known as the Ring of Brodgar.

The stones of Stonehenge are aligned with particular significance to the solstice and equinox points. As a result, some have claimed that Stonehenge represents an "ancient observatory," although the extent of its use in that regard is in dispute.

Stonehenge is associated with Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth said that Merlin directed its removal from Ireland, where it had been constructed on Mount Killaraus[?] by Giants who brought the stones from Africa. After it had been rebuilt near Amesbury, Geoffrey further narrates how first Uther Pendragon, then Constantine III, were buried inside the ring of stones. In many places in his Historia Regum Britanniae Geoffrey mixes British legend and his own imagination; it is intriguing that he connects Ambrosius Aurelianus with this prehistoric monument, seeing how there is placename evidence to connect Ambrosius with nearby Amesbury.

Stonehenge remains a place of pilgrimage for druids and those following pagan or neo-pagan beliefs, and was the site of a free music festival held between 1972 and 1984. However, in 1985 the festival was banned by the British government following a violent confrontation between the police and new age travellers[?] that became known as the Battle of the Beanfield[?].

Construction

The stones are as follows:

  • The Altar Stone: a 5 metre block of green sandstone (all the other stones in Stonehenge are bluestone derived from Preseli in Wales)
  • The Slaughter Stone
  • The Heel Stone once known as the Friar's Heel, (an anglicisation of the Welsh "Ffreya sul", after Ffreya, a druidic goddess of fertility, and sul (pronounced 'seal') meaning Sun Day). A folk tale, which cannot be dated earlier than the seventeenth century, relates the origin of the name of this stone.

The Devil bought the stones from a woman in Ireland, wrapped them up, and brought them to Salisbury plain. One of the stones fell into the Avon, the rest were carried to the plain. The Devil then cried out, "No-one will ever find out how these stones came here." A friar replied, "That's what you think!," whereupon the devil threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. The stone stuck in the ground, and is still there.
  • Station Stones

Other features:

  • The Aubrey Holes
  • Y and Z holes

see also sun mythology, Reconstruction archaeology, archaeoastronomy, America's Stonehenge

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