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Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. Archaeologists believe the standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury henge monument, and it is also a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge itself is owned and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.

 

 

The Bluestones

About 2,000 BC, the first stone circle (which is now the inner circle), comprised of small bluestones, was set up, but abandoned before completion. The stones used in that first circle are believed to be from the Prescelly Mountains, located roughly 240 miles away, at the southwestern tip of Wales. The bluestones weigh up to 4 tons each and about 80 stones were used, in all. Given the distance they had to travel, this presented quite a transportation problem.

 

 

The Engineering of Stonehenge

As an engineering achievement Stonehenge is phenomenal. The stones were shaped with stone 'mauls' - large rounded stones that could be comfortably held and used to pound away at the surface of the stones. Sarsen is extremely hard, and this process must have been difficult. Using stone mauls, and antler picks to dig holes in the chalk, our prehistoric ancestors raised the sarsen lintels to form a circle 100f t (30m) across and 16ft (4.9m) above the sloping ground. They achieved the top surface of the lintels level and truly circular to within an inch or so (Chippindale, 9).

 

 

 

A Diagram of Stonehenge

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