The mystery lies in how these huge stones were carried, some over 250 miles from the Preseli Hills in South Wales , to Salisbury Plain, how these stones particularly the distinctive Sarsen Circle of the centre capped by lintel stones were erected and what purpose did Stonehenge serve; ancient burial site? Sacrificial temple? Or astronomical calendar?
These questions are made all the more baffling considering the period Stonehenge was built. Stonehenge was built over three phases spanning 1500 years from 2950 BC to 1550 BC. Though it was several centuries after the Great Pyramid of Egypt, Stonehenge was built 2000 years earlier than the Aztec pyramids and 3500 years earlier than the Easter Island figures.
Stonehenge would be an incredible feat of engineering in its day, commanding huge resources and manpower. For example, it is estimated that the Sarsen Stones, weighing 50 tons each, would have required 600 people to drag and lift just one.
The stones must have held huge importance, however contrary to popular belief they were not built by Druids, a religious sect that arrived in Britain 1,000 years after Stonehenge. Many myths and theories have since sprouted as to their purpose. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was thought they were places of horrific human sacrifice, but a more educated guess is that rituals involved alignment with the sun and the seasons, showing a remarkably sophisticated grasp of astronomy, mathematics and engineering.
As a famous attraction and World Heritage Site, Stonehenge today receives huge numbers of visitors, who for preservation purposes are kept some distance from the stones themselves.
There is a huge wealth of prehistoric sites in the Wiltshire countryside of Salisbury Plain, including the 1st century Roman-Briton village of Old Sarum , the Avebury Stone Circle, built around 2500 BC, West Kennet Long Barrow, the largest chambered tomb in Europe and Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest prehistoric mound.
This attraction is included in the Great British Heritage Pass.