Amesbury, Wiltshire SP4 7DE, United Kingdom
GPS: 51.179096814963, -1.8254551008921
Visiting Stonehenge, associated with the site of Avebury, some 40 kilometres away, the megalithic monument of Stonehenge is the most famous prehistoric vestige in Great Britain. It is isolated in Salisbury Plain, in the south-west of England. The evocative name Stonehenge means “the hanging stones”. It consists of a set of two concentric circles of stones with a monumental appearance and mysterious origins.
This conglomerate of raised stones dates back to around 3,000 years BC (i.e. a construction that predates the Egyptian pyramids) but the history of Stonehenge could be much older still. According to archaeologists, it was occupied by man as early as the Mesolithic period (-10,000 years) and was used on a large scale as a burial site with the construction of stone circles with a diameter of about 100 metres. The Stonehenge monument is part of a much larger architectural ensemble. Intensified research and the emergence of new techniques at the beginning of the 21st century have made it possible to identify dozens of other similar buildings or monuments within a radius of 10 km².
Stonehenge was built in several phases between the late Neolithic period and the British Bronze Age. Its functions have long been uncertain, so many theories have been attached to the site. These include a sacred sanctuary, a high place of pagan worship, a solar temple, an assembly centre, a site of human sacrifice or executions. Other stories suggest an astronomical function, given the perfect alignment of the Stonehenge site with the rising sun of the summer solstice (a celestial phenomenon corresponding to the shortest day of the year) and the setting of the winter solstice (coinciding with the longest day of the year). With the advancement of technology and science, there is every reason to believe that Stonehenge has taken on the role of a vast cemetery due to the large number of human burials and thousands of animal bones found in various locations. During the Bronze Age, in addition to housing burials and various places of worship to honour ancestors, Stonehenge would have had an important commercial function as a place to trade crafts or raw materials. Then the site began to lose its influence and was finally abandoned in the early Middle Ages. Although many stones have fallen or disappeared over time, Stonehenge hides many unexplored monuments, ditches, mounds, cromlechs and burial mounds. There is no doubt that this area contains the oldest human constructions in Western Europe and is one of the most prominent prehistoric sites in the world.