Stonehenge is an impressive stone monument in Wiltshire County, England, located about 13 km from Salisbury and just over 3 km from Amesbury. The stones are massive boulders of sarsen, Welsh sandstone, and bluestone. They stand upright and are about 6.7 m high. The stones average about 26 tons and the outer ring of thirty stones is about 30.7 m in diameter. There is a deep, round trench running around the stones that is about 101.5 m in diameter. This amazing monument is very famous and receives visitors from all over the world.
Archaeologists estimate that the henge or earthworks including an embankment at Stonehenge, and the Aubrey holes date from 3100 B.C. Then, the bluestones, which are most likely from southwest Wales, the Preseli Mountains, may have been set in place in an inner double ring around 3000 B.C., but some say that the stones were set between 2400 and 2200 B.C. The sarsen stones most likely came from Marlborough Downs and they are the outer ring of the stonework monument.
Additionally, archeologist's have discovered human cremation remains mixed in the chalk dirt filling the holes dating back to the 3000s B.C. at Stonehenge. In 1500 B.C., some of the bluestones were readjusted into the circle and horseshoe interior patterns found today. One stone that sits in front of the main entrance into the stone monument seems to point inward toward the monument. Some call it the "Sun Stone" because people standing inside the monument, facing toward the opening, can watch the sunrise above that "Sun" or "Heel" stone during the summer solstice.
No one is accurately able to explain the purpose of the henge, stone works and burials because there are no written records to tell the story, but there are many theories, legends and myths surrounding this historical site. Some people feel it is a site for religious ceremonies. Others promote the idea that the purpose was astronomy. Geoffery of Monmouth, in the 12th century, combined myths and his own imagination to write a King Arthur tale that claimed Merlin as the creator of Stonehenge.
To set the area aside as a protected historical site, the land became a donation to the National Trust in 1928. The Crown owns the monument and English Heritage maintains the site. Some reconstruction has only been employed to restore and protect the monument. Low grasses planted in the chalky soil attract butterflies and beautify the area.
Thousands of visitors tour the area each year. Some are there night and day to observe the patterns of the sky from the perspective inside the rings of stone. Many have observed the fascinating way directions are respected by the stone placements. The play of sunlight through the formations is of interest as well. Visitors can experience Stonehenge 363 days a year. The monument is only closed Christmas Eve and Christmas. Local busses come in from Amesbury and Salisbury and people driving themselves can follow A344 to the large car park near the monument.
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