Stonehenge remains one of the world’s most enigmatic mysteries. This iconic ruin was constructed in phases starting around 3,000 BC and took more than thirty million man-hours to construct. Stonehenge remains one of England’s top tourist destinations.
Each year more than a million people come from all over the world to witness this marvel of ancient engineering up close, although most visitors will be forced to keep their distance. A rope about two feet off the ground surrounds the perimeter of Stonehenge and during regular hours visitors are not allowed to venture beyond the barrier. Prior to 1977, people could go right up to the stones but erosion around the immediate vicinity resulted in their isolation. There are some exclusive Stonehenge special access tours that allow people the freedom to wander beyond the rope but the frequency of these tours is limited to after hours and certain months of the year.
Stone and Rock Facts
Today, 93 lumps of rock and stone make up this majestic wonder although it is believed that the monument was originally made up of over 160 stones that formed a complete circle. Just where those stones disappeared to is anyone’s guess.
Stonehenge is made up of two types of rock. The massive sarsen stones are composed of sandstone while the smaller igneous rocks are bluestone. The sarsens reach about 20 feet and can weigh up to 45 tons. The lintels are the horizontal sarsen rocks that rest atop the upright sarsen stones to form a trilithon. So one of the biggest questions surrounding this monumental mystery is just how did its Neolithic architects hoist tons of rock to perfect their five trilithons?
While the sarsen stones are native to Salisbury Plain where Stonehenge stands, the bluestones are not. It is believed that they originated from Preseli Hills Wales which is located some 150 miles from Stonehenge. So the enigma of how these massive stones were transported to Salisbury Plain is another Stonehenge head scratcher. And the mysteries don’t end there.
Recent History Facts
In the 1960s, what was believed to be the cremated remains of approximately 52 bodies were found buried underneath Stonehenge. Back then cremated remains held no scientific value and no museum in Britain wanted them so they were eventually reburied in Aubrey Hole 7, one of the chalk pits of Stonehenge. In 2008 these bone fragments were excavated from Aubrey Hole 7 and sent to a laboratory. There it was discovered that these remains were the elite population of ancient society. But why would Stonehenge originators execute such precision in its design if its purpose was to serve as nothing more than a cemetery for the Bronze Age privileged?
Future excavations of the site revealed that Stonehenge was built on a solstice axis. This new evidence suggests that the prehistoric people chose Salisbury Plain as the site for Stonehenge because of its preordained significance. It’s a reflection of the importance of the sun in their beliefs and rituals of the time. Every Summer solstice, thousands of people flock to Stonehenge to see the sunrise in a pagan festival celebrating the longest day of the year.
Invalid Displayed Gallery
The mystery that Stonehenge is shrouded in is part of its universal appeal. It’s definitely a destination that everyone should make a point of seeing in his or her lifetime. A number of Authentic Ireland’s England tours include visits to Stonehenge. If your plan is to drive, then all of our England self-drive vacations include a Stonehenge Tour and range from 5 to 12 days in duration. If you’d prefer a guide, a couple of our England Bus Tours make stops in Stonehenge. Below are some of our top-selling England packages that include Stonehenge as a stop. Reach out to one of our England specialists by phone, by chat or fill out a “Get Quote Now” form to get started planning that England vacation so you can finally witness the prehistoric wonder that is Stonehenge.
7-Night Heart of Wales & England
7-Night Heart of Wales & England
On this tour, you'll spend four nights in England, and three in Wales. Begin your tour in London, with a two night stay that will afford ample time to explore this iconic city. Next, journey west into Wales, visiting mysterious Stonehenge and...