Constructed without the use of draft animals and shaped by
stone tools, Stonehenge was erected many miles from the quarry from which the
stones came. It is an amazing feat of engineering. Other then that, the two main
materials of the Stonehenge, the bluestone and the sarsens, were difficult to
obtain. The bluestone is a mixture of rocks found on the Preseli Mountains in SW
Wales. The most widely accepted theory regards the arrival of the bluestones on
Salisbury Plain as the result of human effort, with the route being partly
overland and partly by water. Sarsen stones are
hard-grained sandstone with with a silaceous cement. They were probably brought
to the site from the Marlborough Downs, about 30 km to the north of Stonehenge.
Current archaeological research shows that this site was
constructed and modified on various phases, spanning several centuries:
millennium BC): at least 4 mesolithic pits which originally contained big
pine posts, in a line about 200m from the present henge site.
Stonehenge 1 (from 3100
consists of the circular bank and ditch, probably about 8 feet high and
300 feet in diameter.
Inside this circular ditch contains 56 Aubrey Holes
which probably originally contained timber posts. Fred
Hoyle has suggested that the 56 Aubrey holes are to predict
In phase I, four marker stones were placed around the ring, two of these
on mounds. These correspond to the Moon setting at its most Southerly point,
Moon rising at its most Northerly point, the Sun rising at its most
Northerly point and the Sun setting at its most Southerly point. These four
alignments form an almost perfect rectangle.
Stonehenge 2 (from 2550
Pottery, animal bones, and cremated human remains placed in ditch.
Cremations are deposited in some of the partially filled Aubrey
of posts in interior and in entrance causeway are also constructed.
Stonehenge 3 (from 2100
BC): sequence of stone-related structures. A close dating is not possible,
but the sequence was probably as follows:
Bluestones from Wales
erected in q and r holes and then dismantled
Sarsen circle and
trilithons erected, possibly also a bluestone setting which may have
included trilithons, this latter then dismantled
Bluestone circle and
Arc of bluestones
removed from oval to leave present horseshoe setting
Y and Z holes dug,
probably for stones which were never erected; during this phase the avenue
was also constructed.