The history of Stonehenge begin when it was constructed between 3100 ‘1100 BCE. It has been calculated that the building of Stonehenge necessitated over thirty million hours of labour. Many believe that Stonehenge was concurrently used for rituals as well as for astronomical observation. The construction of Stonehenge spanned no less than three diverse cultures and its point of reference to the rising and setting sun has always been one of most extraordinary aspects. Whether this was merely because those who constructed Stonehenge came from a sun worshipping culture, or because – as some academics suppose – the circle and its banks were part of an immense astronomical calendar, stays an unsolved enigma to this day.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is encircled by the vestiges of ceremonial edifices, some yet more ancient than the landmark itself. The site, all in all, encompasses some 2,600 hectares and consists of over 400 planned monuments. It is thought that Stonehenge’s location was painstakingly chosen by the Ancients as it was seen to be at the core of their whole world; the place around which time and the seasons rotated.
An abundant number of archaeologists thought that that the Druids, the high priests of the Celts, built Stonehenge for use in sacrifice. They hypothesised that just a mysterious and holy order such as the Druids could build such a spectacular archaic memorial. John Aubrey, a Stonehenge academic (c.1660), was the first to correlate the landmark with the Druids. Far more recently, in the twentieth century, both Gerald Hawkins and Fred Hoyle argued that Stonehenge functioned as an observatory, and also to house records and foresee astronomical events, such as eclipses.
These are just two of an astounding range of theories as to why Stonehenge was built. Interminable other theories have been proposed by academics and scholars who have become preoccupied with the exquisite splendour and other worldliness of Stonehenge, some more outlandish than others. Some, the most famous of all being von Daniken, have even gone so far as to claim that the site was constructed by aliens. Whichever theory you feel most akin to, your experience of Stonehenge is sure to be an indescribable, intense one. How and why was Stonehenge constructed? Over the course of 5,000 years, these two questions have been unremittingly asked by incalculable numbers of people.
Stonehenge has meant diverse things to an assortment of people down the ages. Some of the most remarkable fictional imagery involving Stonehenge is to be discovered in Hardy tragic masterpiece Tess of the d’ Urbervilles. In this exceptional novel, the landmark represents the unresponsiveness of nature to human torment, which in turn accentuates the fact of man’s transience and helplessness in the face of greater powers. Unanimously acknowledged as one of the most renowned places in the world to visit, Stonehenge will not fail to captivate.