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Stonehenge: presentation and interpretation

Copyright Crown copyright.NMRStonehenge is probably the best known monument in Britain and is one element of an extensive historic landscape which has been designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

It was constructed in phases between 2,800 and 1,500 BC, the earliest being the ditch and bank that now surrounds the stones. The stone circles themselves were constructed between 2,600 and 1,600 BC. They were carefully aligned on sunrise and sunset on the mid summer and mid winter solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year. Almost certainly there have been more features than are known about and some stones have been re-arranged.

Around 2,000 BC a new entrance was made and the Avenue was started. There is evidence that it was extended around 1,200-1,000 BC suggesting Stonehenge continued in use through this period.

For hundreds of years people have visited the site and archaeologists have asked questions about its construction and purpose, but there are few definitive answers and it has always preserved an air of mystery. This, in itself, has drawn in people who see the stones as a link to the past or even to another dimension and come to marvel, worship or simply absorb the atmosphere of this unique and mystical site.

Author: Mary Mills, English Heritage

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