Stonehenge: The Mystery
May 15, 2017
Stonehenge is perhaps one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments. Built in stages, the foundations of this beautiful monument were laid over 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle being added later on around the 3500 BC period. Since then burial mounds have been added all around, and it has become a source of fascination for modern historians. It’s even become the set for a memorable episode of one of Britain’s longest loved TV series - Doctor Who. In recent years’ historians have been able to uncover some of the mysteries around Stonehenge, so now, as we gear up to our sunset visit, we can share them with you!
Before It All Began
The earliest structures known in the immediate area of Stonehenge are the 4 or 5 pits, which historians believe each held a large ‘totem’ like pole in the centre during the Mesolithic period (between 8500 and 7000BC for those who aren’t brushed up on their historical eras). We still aren’t sure how these poles relate to the later Stonehenge, if they do at all. Given that at that time much of southern England was covered in woodland, the chalk downland in the area might have create an unusually open space. Because of this, it’s thought that it was an early Neolithic monument complex.
The Earliest Monument
While it’s possible that features like the Heel Stone and the North Barrow were part of Stonehenge originally, the earliest known major event was the construction of a circular ditch in 3000 BC. This ditch, with 2 entrances, formed the outline of the current Stonehenge monument. Historians believe that the inside of this ditch held some timber structures or even early stone monuments. What they do know for certain is that the ditch itself is where the residents buried cremations. Around 64 cremations have been found so far, with about 150 individuals found buried and whole. These finds cemented the site as the largest late Neolithic cemetery in the British Isles.
The Stone Settings
Stonehenge as we know it today wasn’t constructed until 2500 BC. The larger set of stones (known as Sarsens) were erected in an outer circle and an inner horseshoe, and the smaller ones (bluestones) were set up between them in a double arc. Sarsen stones were also placed at the entrance, and on the edges of the circle. We still have no idea of the motives behind this arrangement, or what it means.
After It Was Built
The erection of the stone settings of Stonehenge came at a time of great change in prehistory. New styles of pottery were being developed, metalworking was in its early stages and those living in the area were just starting to transition to burying their dead with personal possessions and headstone, so you can see some really early examples of these around the area as well. During this time dozens of round barrows were built, and 4 of the sarsens at Stonehenge were decorated with hundreds of carvings, mainly of axe heads and daggers, which might have been symbols of power at the time.
From the middle Bronze Age, there was less of a communal effort for ceremonial monuments like Stonehenge, and instead most efforts went into creating fields. It is believed that Stonehenge was a central, ritual based meeting point for the Roman empire – as many Roman objects have been found there. Over the next century, a number of small villages were established, the fields were used for sheep and husbandry and the first written references to Stonehenge were recorded (around the 14thCentury), with increased drawings and writings found over the following years.
Since then, Stonehenge has become a source of inspiration, spirituality, peace and mystery for thousands of people, who flock from all across the world to view it from a safe distance. But at Spice, we aren’t normal people. We have secured an exclusive after hours’ tour of the inner circle for our members, with a very knowledgeable guide thrown in. At this exciting event, we will get the chance to get up close with the stones and learn about their history in depth. We will stay within the circle as the sun set, giving us a spectacular view and a truly spiritual experience. This August evening event is already filling up, so don’t miss out. Book your space for £48 today by clicking here.