Stonehenge - History, Meaning & Facts

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Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 3.2 kilometres west of Amesbury and 13 kilometres north of Salisbury. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. The Stonehenge is one of the seven wonders of the Medieval Mind and one of the seven wonders of the world.

Archaeologists believe that the standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.

The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list Of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury henge monument, and it is also a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.

The Stonehenge complex was built in several construction phases spanning at least 3000 years, although there is evidence activity both before and afterwards on the site, perhaps extending its time frame to 6500 years.

New archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project indicates that Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The dating of cremated remains found that burials took place as early as 3000 B.C, when the first ditches Were being built around the monument. Burials continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years when the giant stones which mark the landmark were put up.

The Stonehenge complex was built in several construction phases spanning at least 3000 years, although there is evidence for activity both before and afterwards on the site, perhaps extending its time frame to 6500 years.

Dating and understanding the various phases of activity at stonehenge is not a simple task; it is complicated by poorly kept early excavation records, except for few accurate scientific dates and the disturbance of the natural chalk by periglacial effects and animal burrowing.

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