Stonehenge

By Marcellus Weinzierl

The Tale of Merlin

Geoffrey of Monmouth, a 12th-century writer who was well respected in the Middle Ages, once wrote that Stonehenge was brought to Britain by a wizard named Merlin. King Aurelius Ambrosius lost 300 men to the evil Saxons and wanted to make a memorial to them, and so Merlin advised that they use the Giant's Ring in Ireland. When they arrived there, Merlin used his magic to bring what would be known as Stonehenge to Britain. This is just one of the many explanations for how and why Stonehenge was built. The well known monument in Wiltshire, England is almost completely a mystery.
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Conflicting views

There are many reasons for which archaeologists believe Stonehenge was built. It has been widely accepted that it was once a burial ground, as there have been many cremated remains found underneath the Henge. But others have said that it was a temple for the worship of ancient gods, or, according to britannia.com, it may have been an "...astronomical observatory for marking significant events on the prehistoric calendar." Some have even credited its construction to aliens.

Work

Although Stonehenge's archaic purpose is unclear, it is clear that vast amounts of time and effort were put into the structure. The monument is made up of giant sarsen stones and smaller "bluestones" (called this because of their bluish tint when wet or cracked). The sarsens weigh about 50 tons each, and the bluestones 2-4 tons each. These bluestones have been traced 200 miles away, believed to have come from the Prescelly Mountains. Including the sarsens, there are 83 stones in all. So how did the people of the past get these massive stones to the Henge?

The Bluestones

For the bluestones, most scholars say that Stonehenge's builders used rollers and sledges made from tree trunks, then transferred the stones from those onto rafts to float them up a river that ran close to the Henge. They may have even used oxen to pull the stones some of the distance. Another theory is that glaciers slowly moved the rocks close to Stonehenge, which greatly reduced the distance to get them to their places.
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The Sarsen Stones

It was different for the sarsen stones. These colossal, 50 ton rocks were brought over a much smaller distance of about 25 miles from the Marlborough Downs. The going was just as hard, if not harder, than moving the bluestones. Again, they might have used sledges and rollers. But the route used to transport them required at least 600 men at the steepest point, which was Redhorn Hill, and then it was even harder to pull the stones upright with ropes and levers.
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Today, Stonehenge is one of over 1,000 ancient henges in England. It is the most famous and breathtaking of them all, and this is no surprise. It's possible purposes are intriguing to think about, and the evident work put into the landmark is fascinating. Maybe we won't find out its meaning, but Stonehenge will always be known for the amazing and mystifying work that the ancient builders somehow managed to give this great monument.

Sources:

Ashe, Geoffrey. "Stonehenge." Britannia.com. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.



History.com Staff. "Stonehenge." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.



"Stonehenge." - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.



"Stonehenge Facts and Information for Kids | KidsKonnect." KidsKonnect. N.p., 01 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.




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