How Did They Do That?
The mystery of the prehistoric site continues to capture the world’s imagination
Find out why the mysterious Stonehenge was really built
Construction of Stonehenge is believed to have started about 5,000 years ago. Initially, a timber circle was erected, which was replaced with stones around 2600 BC during the late Neolithic period. The monument sits at the centre of an ancient ritual landscape, and is joined to another nearby henge via both an earthwork avenue and the River Avon. During the Bronze Age, depictions of axe-heads and daggers were carved into its stones – a prehistoric display of power. Debate rages over who exactly built it and for what purpose. Most experts believe its chief function was as a temple for solar worship.
THE LAYOUT The central monument was built to align with key celestial events and natural phenomena. NEOLITHIC CALENDAR The monument’s orientation frames the rising Sun during the summer solstice and the setting Sun during the winter solstice. These predictable events were clearly of tremendous significance to Stonehenge’s creators. FIRST RING The course of the Sun The course of the Moon SECOND RING ALTAR STONE THIRD RING NEOLITHIC ART Several stones feature carvings of prehistoric tools and weaponry. SARSEN STONE The larger stones are a type of sandstone common across southern England. INNER RING