Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, England
For thousands of years, people have mused about the meaning of the giant stones carefully arranged in a circle on southern England’s Salisbury Plain. Similar henges — circles of standing stones — exist in Scotland, Spain and Sweden, but none are as striking or storied as Stonehenge.
The rock pillars weigh up to 50 tons and were hauled about 150 miles from a quarry in Wales, then carefully arranged so that they lined up with the sunrise of the summer solstice and the sunset of the winter solstice. Chalk-filled holes dug in a circle outside the standing stones could be used to mark lunar eclipses.
Medieval historian Geoffrey of Monmouth credited the site’s construction to the wizard Merlin. More recent scholars believe, due to nearby burial sites, that Stonehenge was used as a prehistoric hospital and holy place, where priests tended to those in need of miraculous healing.