A paper published in the journal British Archaeology provides evidence that two of the largest and most significant blocks of stone at Stonehenge may have already been in ‘position’ millions of years before people arrived at Stonehenge.
One of the most mysterious ancient sites on the surface of the planet is Stonehenge. Located in near Amesbury, in the county of Wiltshire, England, about fifteen kilometers north of Salisbury, this ancient megalithic site has remained shrouded in mystery for decades.
Stonehenge is composed of large blocks of metamorphic rocks distributed in four concentric circles.
The exterior of Stonehenge is thirty meters in diameter and is formed by large rectangular stones of sandstone that, initially, were crowned by lintels, also made of stone.
Inside this outer row is another circle of smaller blocks of bluish sandstone.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.
This encloses a structure with a horseshoe shape built with sandstone stones of the same color.
In its interior remains a slab of micaceous sandstone known as the Altar.
And while officially, the ancient site was built between 3000 BC to 2000 BC, a new study claims the ancient site may have existed long before humans lived on Earth.
What Stonehenge is, and why and how these massive stones were ‘transported’ to where they stand today remains a profound mystery.
However, an archaeologist believes he may have found an answer that could help unravel Stonehenge’s mystery.
As noted by the Times, Mike Pitts, a British scientist who specializes in British pre-history, claims to have discovered evidence that two of the largest and most significant blocks of stone at Stonehenge may have already been there millions of years before people arrived.
The expert explains that the accidental alignment with the sunrise and sunset of the longest and shortest days of the year made ancient people—around 3,000BC—construct the site we see today.
Mr. Pitts also happens to be one of the few who have actually performed excavations on the site.
In a study published in the journal British Archaeology, Mr. Pitts describes uncovering a pit, around six meters (20 feet) in diameter, besides the heel stone in 1979. The Freelancer archaeologist explains that Stonehenge’s heel stone is 75 meters (250 feet) from the center of the stone circle, weighs around 60 tons and has not been shaped or dressed, unlike the other sarsens.
As explained by Mr. Pitts, the hole, rather than being a socket dug for a missing standing stone, was once home to huge heel stone.
In an interview with the Times, Mr. Pitt explains:
“The assumption used to be that all the sarsens at Stonehenge had come from the Marlborough Downs more than 20 miles away. The idea has since been growing that some may be local and the heel stone came out of that big pit.”
“If you are going to move something that big you would dress it before you transport it, to get rid of some of the bulk. That fact alone suggests it has not been moved very far. It makes sense that the heel stone has always been more or less where it is now, half-buried.”
As explained by the archaeological site’s website, Stonehenge was erected in four main stages:
The first Stonehenge was a large earthwork or Henge, containing a ditch, bank, and the Aubrey holes, all probably constructed approximately 3100 BC. The Aubrey holes are round pits in the chalk, about one meter wide and deep, with steep sides and flat bottoms. They form a circle about 284 feet in diameter. Excavations have unveiled cremated human bones in some of the chalk fillings, but the holes themselves were probably made, not for the purpose of graves, but as part of the religious ceremony. Shortly after this stage Stonehenge was abandoned, left untouched for more than 1000 years.
The second and most dramatic stage of the construction of Stonehenge started sometime around 2150 BC. Around 82 bluestones from the Preseli mountains, in south-west Wales were somehow transported to the site. It is believed these stones, some weighing 4 tons each were dragged on rollers and sledges to the headwaters on Milford Haven and then loaded onto rafts. They were carried by water along the south coast of Wales and up the rivers Avon and Frome, before being dragged overland again to near Warminster in Wiltshire. The final stage of the journey was mainly by water, down the river Wylye to Salisbury, then the Salisbury Avon to West Amesbury.
This astonishing journey covers nearly 240 miles. Once at the site, these stones were set up in the center to form an incomplete double circle. ( During the same period the original entrance of the circular earthwork was widened and a pair of Heel Stones were erected. Also, the nearer part of the Avenue was built, aligned with the midsummer sunrise.)
The third stage of Stonehenge, about 2000 BC, saw the arrival of the Sarsen stones, which were almost certainly brought from the Marlborough Downs near Avebury, in north Wiltshire, about 25 miles north of Stonehenge. The largest of the Sarsen stones transported to Stonehenge weigh 50 tons and transportation by water would have been impossible, the stones could only have been moved using sledges and ropes. Modern calculations show that it would have taken 500 men using leather ropes to pull one stone, with an extra 100 men needed to lay the huge rollers in front of the sledge.
These were arranged in an outer circle with a continuous run of lintels. Inside the circle, five trilithons were placed in a horseshoe arrangement, whose remains we can still see today.
The final stage took place soon after 1500 BC when the bluestones were rearranged in the horseshoe and circle that we see today. The original number of stones in the bluestone circle was probably around 60, these have long since been removed or broken up. Some remain only as stumps below ground level.
Stonehenge Official Website