Stonehenge is one of the gigantic monuments left by the ancient civilization and like other monuments, it is full of secrets. It predates the three Pyramids of Egypt that were made in 3000 B.C. There are many theories about the purpose of Stonehenge but none of them have been proven as facts. The biggest theory is that it is an ancient observatory but this theory too has been discarded as it does not answer the questions raised by the people. Questions like; when was it built? How was it built? And why was it built? To answer these questions a team of archeologists gathered, armed with new technology to re-excavate the site and found out that it was far from an ancient observatory.
Stonehenge is a circular pit with gigantic stones in the middle. The bigger stones that are more than 20 feet high and weigh around 45 tons are made of Sarsen, a type of sandstone. A crown of horizontal slabs called Lintels was placed on top of these stones. The sarsen was carved into a tapered form and fitted with knobs that held the horizontal slabs in place. Nestled inside the gigantic circle of sarsen are smaller stones called bluestones. These stones were not locally found but were transported from Wales which is at least 150 miles away.
The archeological study was different this time as the team came up with a new theory that they needed to prove. This theory was that Stonehenge was a burial site for the royalty that resided there at the time it was made. The team was led by Mike Pearson who was previously involved in studying the burial rituals of the people of Madagascar. According to the tribal people of Madagascar, the stone was bound to the dead and perishable items like wood were bound to the living. Pearson thought if this also applied to Stonehenge. The strategy was not only to excavate Stonehenge but also the surrounding area to study the people that built it.
In the 1920s, the site was dug extensively and it was discovered that Stonehenge was built in succession. First, a circular pit was made, then a rig of 56 pits was built inside it. Each pit held a blue stone but when the Stonehenge was made, these bluestones were dug up and placed inside. The empty holes were filled with cremated remains of the dead. These holes are known as Aubrey Holes. When the site was dug up, the cremated remains were not found to be useful as at that time, there was no technology available to help with studying cremated remains. These remains were buried back in Aubrey Hole no. 7. These were once again excavated and studied. Most of the people buried here were male between the ages of 25 to 40 and were healthy. The fact that only a few people were buried here, meant that they were prominent people. A little further away from Salisbury, another pit with numerous holes was discovered. These holes once held timber poles 15 feet high that represented the living. Feasting ground and house floors were also discovered in the surrounding area making Pearson’s theory a plausible one.
Another mystery that needed to be answered was the transportation of the huge stones to the site of Stonehenge. Andrew Young presented the theory that carved stone balls were used for this purpose. Carved stone balls were found mostly in Scotland and were of the same diameter. This led Young to believe that the reason these were the same size was that they were used to transport large objects. He tested out this theory by building a ramp and transported 45 tons of weight from point A to B. He was successful in this however the method was considered to be very sophisticated for that time period.
Clive Ruggles negated the theory of Stonehenge being an observatory. He said the only reason this is thought is that summer and winter solstice aligns perfectly with the gap between the stone. This would have been a spectacular sight to see but it was merely a coincidence as it does not predict anything else about astronomy. Hundreds of Stonehenge appeared in the surrounding area but over time, these were abandoned leaving several questions but no answers.
“Secrets of Stonehenge.” Films On Demand, Films Media Group, 2010, digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=20875&xtid=115805. Accessed 26 Aug. 2021.