What is Stonehenge?
The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was Stonehenge a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones from so far away and then, using only the most primitive of tools, build this amazing structure? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress.
Who built Stonehenge?
In the early medieval period, writers thought they knew who had built Stonehenge—Merlin. But by the early 17th century, scholars were looking for a more plausible answer. In 1620, architect Inigo Jones thought it was based on classical geometry and constructed by the Romans. Antiquary John Aubrey thought that the native Britons, in particular the Druids, were the builders of Stonehenge. Antiquary William Stukeley’s 1740 book firmly established the idea that it was a Druid temple.
Towards the end of the 19th century, archaeologists began to realise that Stonehenge could be much older, linking finds to the Bronze Age. William Gowland’s excavations in 1901 showed that Stonehenge was built in the Neolithic or early Bronze Age. Today, we think the stones were raised about 2,500 BC by the native inhabitants of late Neolithic Britain.