History in 360: Stonehenge 1


Stonehenge Special - History in 360 - The Hovel

This is a pretty special blog for us. Stonehenge is, not so secretly, Niki’s favourite place on earth!!

When people think of Stonehenge there are probably a few different things that pop into their heads. Perhaps you think “its a bunch of rocks?” or maybe you’re on the side of those who think Stonehenge is a kind of spiritual centre? You may of course just be someone who thinks the history is really fascinating. All of these have a place (except you ‘bunch of rocks’ people!). Hopefully we can go into a bit of detail and explain a bit about what we know.

Prehistoric Beginnings

In the very blandest of terms, Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument standing on Sails bury Plains, Wiltshire England. It is estimated that the initial construction began around 3000BC and was completed around 2000BC.

The first phase of construction was an earthworks bank ditch in a circle (which we now consider the “outside” of Stonehenge) followed by the circle structure we have come to associate with these types of monuments. There have been a number of reboots and face lifts during its millennia, starting with timber posts marking out the boundaries. At some point around 2400-2200BC, the smaller Bluestones were erected on site. These would have been in much more of a circle than they are now.

It’s interesting to note that, although the ‘Stonehenge’ we think of would have begun around 3000BC, new evidence is being uncovered all the time to suggest that the site its self has been an active hub since around 8000BC. Four pot-holes, similar to those found in Scandinavia, have been radiocarbon dated to this very early Mesolithic period. These pot-holes were aligned East-West. This has enhanced the theory that the site has been of ritual important for many, many millennia.

 

Stonehenge Rocks

After the timber construction, ancient builders switched to stone and begun sourcing the stones we see today. These stones are distinctly different. The smaller circle is made up of Bluestones, so called because they are an indigenous stone, dolerite, which comes up a stunning blue when polished! The Bluestones have been traced and it is believed they came from Pembrokeshire, in Wales. This is an incredible feat as Pembrokeshire is 150 miles (240Km) from Stonehenge!

Ancient builders transported up to 80 of these smaller stones to the site and dressed them nearby. They are believed to have been arranged in either two crescent or horseshoe shapes. One large crescent around the outside with one smaller crescent or horseshoe inside.

Closer to home, around 25 miles (40km) away, the ancient builders lastly collected the enormous sarsen stones. These huge stones are possibly the most striking feature to be seen at Stonehenge as they tower over the landscape.

To try to put it in perspective, each sarsen stone weighs around 25 tonnes, stands around 4.1metres tall, and has a width of around 2.1 metres. That’s as taller than most Elephants, weighing in the same as an Orca Whale, and wider than a Queen Size bed!

It’s difficult to adequately describe the feeling of being at the bottom of one of them and looking up. It’s very imposing and must have felt like standing at the bottom of a skyscraper by today’s standard.

 

Stonehenge Special - History in 360 - The HovelThe Heele Stone

Standing just outside of the circle, in a north east direction that roughly lines up with sunrise at Summer Solstice, stands the Heele Stone. This is a roughly cut stone, not as well dressed as the others.

The Heele stone leans towards the main circle and stands at around 16 feet (4.9m) tall. There are many stories as to how the Heele Stone both got its name and arrived at the landscape. These include the Devil hurling the stone at a poor friar for his interference on building Stonehenge!

 

Beliefs of Stonehenge

One of the most contentious issues surrounding Stonehenge is its place in our history as both a monument of construction and place as a spiritual centre. There are many many wild theories as so why Stonehenge was built and what it’s “purpose” is. The Ancient Alien theory is probably the most amusing: Aliens came to ancient Britain and used Stonehenge as a landing area and repairing their space craft…. It could be true we suppose?!

In all seriousness though, aliens probably aren’t the reason Stonehenge exits. We are not able to definitively say WHY but, having travelled there so many times, Niki has her own explanations.

Stonehenge Special - History in 360 - The Hovel

“Stonehenge has an atmosphere like none other. Taking away the hippies and the dressing up, there really is something magical about the monument. If you ever get a chance to stand in centre circle on your own it is an incredible experience. So peaceful. As soon as you walk through the first ring of stones it feels like you’re leaving the modern world and entering some kind of peaceful vortex. Time doesn’t matter, and all phone signal (thankfully!) dies!

Stonehenge is definitely magical. Whatever your beliefs are, there’s no denying that it can have an affect on you. We really don’t know WHY Stonehenge was built, or the religion of the original builders. However, I don’t think anyone can be in centre circle and not have some kind of spiritual connection to their ancestors. Be it through God, through Allah, or through ‘Spirit’, its a connection rarely felt anywhere else.

Getting to touch the stones really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that everyone should have a chance to do. I highly recommend going at either Winter Solstice or Spring/Autumn Equinox and experiencing this lovely coming together of human spirituality.”

 

Prehistoric Wiltshire

We hope you enjoyed our little blog about Niki’s favourite historical place in Britain. Our most recent visit to Stonehenge was part of a longer tour of Prehistoric Wiltshire. We had a really great time exploring our ancient past and would love for you to have a read of our journey!
Until next time!

Team Hovel
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Stonehenge Special - History in 360 - The Hovel

In memory of Ghyl Lionheart. A great friend both on earth and in spirit

 


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