Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments. The mystery of the huge circle of massive stones provides almost endless speculation, fascination and wonder. How is Merlin involved? Did the stones really come from Africa? Read on for some amazing Stonehenge facts that will surprise you!
1) Stonehenge was not built in one single stage, but in four stages beginning 5,000 years ago in the late Neolithic Age. In 1500 BC, during the Bronze Age, the final modifications were made.
2) So far, no theory has been proven about how Stonehenge was built. A 12th century legend claimed giants put the stones on a mountain in Ireland. Then, magically, the wizard Merlin moved the circle of stones to England. Recent research suggests the stones were transported from a quarry in Wales. Some historians speculate that a system of ropes, ditches and poles lifted the stones into position. The research continues!
3) Every year almost one million people visit Stonehenge, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.
4) The largest stone weighs more than 40 tons and rises 24 feet.
5) Around 20,000 people visit Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice.
6) In 1620, to discover buried treasure, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, dug a substantial hole in the center of Stonehenge. His crude excavation didn’t turn up buried treasure.
7) Much mystery also surrounds the purpose of Stonehenge. Some researchers believe the site to be a calendar connected to the stars. Other theories suggest it was a place of healing. One certainty is that it was used as a cemetery since over 200 people are estimated to be buried on the grounds.
8) Using laser scanning technology, researchers have discovered over 100 crudely carved images of axes on some of the stones from the initial construction. A few of the ax carvings are still visible to the naked eye.
9) Stonehenge is an early English world that translates into “hanging stones.”
10) Archaeological excavations of the surrounding area have revealed other mysterious henges. The mystery of Stonehenge deepens!
“Perhaps these ancient observatories like Stonehenge perennially impress modern people because modern people have no idea how the Sun, Moon, or stars move. We are too busy watching evening television to care what's going on in the sky.”
— Neil deGrasse Tyson