At a distance of about 130 km from London the tourists stop to feel the mysterious atmosphere around one of the greatest mysteries that still remain unsolved – the ancient historical monument of Stonehenge. At first glance the object is not so mysterious – a ring of standing monolithic stones bound to the soil. However, after years, even centuries of explorations and research, no-one can tell who built Stonehenge or why. According to the archaeologists, Stonehenge was built at some point between 3000 BC and 2000 BC.
One of the questions that occupied the scientists and researchers was how exactly the monument was built. The building of the monument passed in three phases, the most interesting of them the transportation of the enormous bluestone monoliths from the Preseli Mountains, which are 240 miles away, and the second – the transportation of the Sarsen stones and the building of the five trilithons (two vertical stones, supporting a third horizontally set one) of Stonehenge. The 82 bluestones from the Preseli Mountains, some of which weigh about 4 tonnes, were transported with the help of rollers, sledges and even rafts to the place of Stonehenge. The Sarsen stones, the largest of which weighs 50 tonnes, couldn’t have been transported by water – according to the scientists, it took 500 men to pull one stone and other 100 men to move the rollers in front of it.
When it comes to the function of Stonehenge, there are numerous theories and beliefs. According to the archaeoastronomers, the monument is an ancient astronomical observatory. They claim that Stonehenge was used as a marker for the midsummer sunrise. Another theories range from fairy tales (that the wizard Merlin made a giant built Stonehenge) to the beliefs that the monument was a pilgrimage site with healing properties. However, one of the widely spread theories is that Stonehenge was built by Druids, who performed their secret rituals there.
According to the radiocarbon dating of the monument, however, some of the theories are improbable. According to it, Stonehenge was built between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, while the Druids came into being after year 300 BC. Other theories that Stonehenge was built as a Roman temple also drop out of the picture as the first Roman expedition to Britain was led by Julius Caesar in 55 BC. However, one is for sure – the mammoth monument was certainly used for the practicing of some cult or a ritual that the scientist haven’t yet found out. Whether the place is a sacred sanctuary or a monstrous place for human sacrifice is yet to be puzzled out.
Stonehenge is open for visits every day of the year except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you plan to the monument, you can go there by car, train or bus. If you choose to travel by car, you will just need to reach Amesbury, and Stonehenge is 2 miles away. The nearest railway station is Salisbury, which is 9.5 miles away. The trains for Salisbury depart from Waterloo Station in London every hour. The cheapest way, however, is by bus. The buses depart from Victoria Coach Station and from Heathrow and you will have to get off at Amesbury.