When Was Stonehenge Built?
Stonehenge was built on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury, apparently in three different stages between 2000 and 3000 BC. The first stage consisted of a circular ditch and bank, with a series of circular holes called Aubrey holes after the man who discovered them. It also included the Hele Stone. There may have been a structure of stone or wood at the centre of the circle.
During the second stage of construction, which probably took place about 200 years later, the entrance of the earthwork was widened on the east side and connected to the River Avon by a processional way marked by parallel banks and ditches. At the same time a number of Blue Stones, which were apparently brought from the Prescelly Mountains in Pembrokeshire, South Wales were erected in the centre of the site to form two circles.
The third stage of the work is thought to have been begun after 2200 BC, the entire monument was remodeled, and about 80 large blocks of sarsen were presumably transported from the Marlborough Downs north of the site. These were erected in a circle of 30 uprights, capped by a continuous ring of stone lintels. It is generally assumed that Stonehenge was constructed as a place of worship, but its exact purpose is unknown. There is an astronomical explanation for the placing of stones where they are in relation to the rising and the setting sun.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument which consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. Deposits containing human bone date from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug, and continued for at least another five hundred years.
One of the most famous landmarks in the UK, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon. It has been a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882 when legislation to protect historic monuments was first successfully introduced in Britain. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage; the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.
In the late 1920s a nationwide appeal was launched to save Stonehenge from the encroachment of the modern buildings that had begun to rise around it. By 1928 the land around the monument had been purchased with the appeal donations, and given to the National Trust to preserve. The buildings were removed (although the roads were not), and the land returned to agriculture. More recently the land has been part of a grassland reversion scheme, returning the surrounding fields to native chalk grassland.