bonus blog – stonehenge

Of the many sites we studied Stonehenge was the most interesting to me for multiple reasons. One of them is the engineering behind the structure is very impressive. The stones that make up Stonehenge are massive and were carved by hand. They location of the stones was pre-planned by using a complex design procedure and an in-depth understanding of geometry. The stones were likely transported from Marlborough downs a long ways away. The stones were very carefully chosen for their acoustic properties and they were carved so carefully so they could be configured into Trilithons without mortar. The stones are placed in such a way that they show astronomical connections. Although they may not show as magical of a calendar some may have thought, the engineering behind the structure is incredible.

Another reason I am so fascinated by what we studied about Stonehenge was the context of Stonehenge. Stonehenge, contrary to popular belief, is part of a much greater landscape full of all kinds of landmarks. There are many earthworks including huge ditches that were used to restrict human traffic flow and mounds and burial sites all around Stonehenge. There are even woodhenges nearby. Woodhenges were for the land of the living and Stonehenge was for the land of the dead. The construction of the site took more than 7,500 hundred years starting with Neolithic post holes and followed by Robin Hood’s Ball – a barrow earthwork. Within the giant circular embankment there were 56 pits dug. These were used to store human remains.

The third reason I find Stonehenge to be one of the most interesting sites is that while most people believe Stonehenge was a small site whose only purpose was an ancient calendar, in reality it was used for much more. There is much evidence to show that Stonehenge was used to ceremonial reasons for long periods of time. A skeleton of a young man was found in the ditch around Stonehenge that suggest he was a sacrificial victim. Stonehenge was likely a center for trade as well as a place for elites to gather and show off. There are many elite burials around Stonehenge containing the remains of royals and elite people who would have been carried a long way to be buried there. There is little sign of warfare but more signs of a political and ceremonial center. It was a place of pilgrimage for people like Amesbury Archer whose remains tell us he came from central Germany.