Millennia after Stonehenge was built, archaeologists are finally solidifying where its stones came from and why it was erected

FILE PHOTO: A couple take a selfie as they pass near by the Stonehenge stone circle, where official Summer Solstice celebrations were cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near Amesbury, Britain June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A pair take a selfie near Stonehenge, June 20, 2020. Toby Melville/Reuters

Stonehenge’s beginning tale has actually frustrated archaeologists for centuries.

The strange rock setup on England’s Salisbury Plain includes 2 distinctive kinds of rock pieces in fifty percent circles. Researchers have actually mapped the substantial 30-foot rocks developing Stonehenge’s external circle to neighboring forests, while the internal circle of smaller sized, 9-foot bluestone pillars most likely came from a website in Wales greater than 140 miles away.

While Stonehenge’s contractors left no sign of exactly how the monolith came to be there or why they erected it, brand-new research study right into the stones’ locations of beginning are supplying brand-new understanding right into the monolith’s function.

A current research in the journal Antiquity recommends that Stonehenge’s bluestone circle was very first built at a website called Waun Mawn in Wales, after that relocated to its last relaxing location centuries later on. When Stone Age farmers moved eastern throughout the island, they brought the 2- to 4-ton pieces rock circle with them item by item, the research writers claimed.

“One theory for why prehistoric people might have dismantled a stone circle in west Wales and transported it all the way to Salisbury Plain proposes that the stones were the embodiment of those people’s ancestors,” Mike Parker Pearson, an excavator at University College London and co-author of the research, created in The Conversation.

Stonehenge was imported


Inside the sarsen circle atStonehenge James Davies/English Heritage

Arthurian tale declares that the wizard Merlin carried Stonehenge to England after swiping the stones from a monolith built by Irish titans. The brand-new research recommends one component of that story had not been rather as improbable as archaeologists idea.

Researchers found out in 2015 that Stonehenge’s 43 bluestones came from 2 quarries in Wales’ Preseli Hills, however Pearson’s group verified that individuals were quarrying there concerning 400 years prior to Stonehenge’s preliminary building began 5,000 years back.

The dissimilar days puzzled the research writers: “Surely it couldn’t have taken 400 years to haul newly quarried bluestones to Stonehenge?” Pearson created.

That led his team to check out where the hewn bluestones went throughout those 4 centuries. At Waun Mawn, which is simply 3 miles from the Preseli Hills quarries, they discovered residues of a rock circle dating to concerning 3,400 BCE – which matched the bluestones’ quarrying age.

Distinct divots at the website matched the dimension and form of the bluestones at Stonehenge, and pieces of rock there matched the monolith’s bluestones. This recommends the contractors of that rock circle deconstructed it after that rebuilt it as Stonehenge greater than 140 miles away.

Indeed, according to the research writers, the Waun Mawn rock circle and the ditch surrounding Stonehenge are specifically the exact same size: 361 feet (110 meters).

Stonehenge’s sarsen rocks came from a various area

stonehenge sarsen

A huge sarsen rock at West Woods, the location where most sarsens made use of to constructStonehenge came from Katy Whitaker/Historic England/University of Reading

While the bluestones were imported, the resource of Stonehenge’s 25-ton sandstone rocks, called sarsens, was a bit closer to the present website.

Stonehenge as soon as had 80 sarsens erected in square-shaped archways surrounding its bluestones, however just 52 continue to be. According to a July research, Stonehenge’s contractors dragged the majority of the stones from a neighboring location called theWest Woods It’s greater than 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the monolith – “which is insane really if you think about it,” David Nash, an excavator from the University of Brighton and co-author of that research, formerly informed Insider.

Nash claimed Stonehenge’s contractors likely made use of some kind of roller or dragged the hefty sarsens on an unsafe surface area like plants or icy ground.

“There’s no evidence they used animals to do it, but we don’t know,” he claimed.

Nash included that the contractors possibly increased the sarsens right into their standing settings in Stonehenge’s rock circle at the exact same time, around 4,500 years back, after transferring them en masse.

A cemetery or a holy schedule

A druid rests in the stone circle at Stonehenge where people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day in the UK

A druid at Stonehenge throughout the 2019 summer season solstice. Ben Birchall/ Images/ Getty

Ideas concerning what Stonehenge may have been made use of for run the range from a holy schedule that tracked the sunlight to a spiritual graveyard.

“Put simply, Stonehenge was the ceremonial center of southern England,” Matt Leivers, an excavator with Wessex Archaeology in England, informed Insider.

The brand-new research offers support to the concept that it was erected as a cemetery: The scientists checked out 25 individuals whose cremated remains had actually been hidden at the website 5,000 years back. By looking at the chemical structure of those remains, Pearson’s group wrapped up that 4 of the cremated people had “lived the last decades of their lives” in Wales.

“It therefore seems highly likely that people came with the bluestones – and stayed with them,” Pearson created, including, “burials suggest Stonehenge was a place of the dead.”

Leivers’ group lately discovered 4,500-year-old tombs coming from a child and girl much less than a mile from the monolith, emphasizing this concept. Both people became part of the Beaker society, a team that resided in Europe in between 4,000 and 5,000 years back.

Stonehenge was additionally an area of spiritual and political power, Leivers claimed: “Think of Washington, DC, with a big dollop of religion.”


The sunlight establishes behind Stonehenge simply after the wintertime solstice. Gail Johnson/Getty Images

Stonehenge’s primary entryway lines up with sunup on the summer season solstice – the lengthiest day of the year. This recommends the monolith can have additionally acted as a holy schedule, or a website for routines that commemorated the shifting periods. The Waun Mawn rock circle had that exact same positioning.

“It provided an assurance that – no matter how the seasons cycled and the skies darkened, no matter how the days shortened – there was a pattern and that people knew what it was,” Leivers claimed, including, “Stonehenge guaranteed that the sun would always come back.”

Read the initial write-up on Business Insider