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What is Stonehenge Used For

The Mystery of the Salisbury Plain Monoliths

Stonehenge Monoliths

Located in Wiltshire County, England, the Stonehenge site is a megalithic structure whose construction began during the Neolithic period, around -2 800 BC, and would finish at the end of the Bronze Age, around the year -1 100. All in all, Stonehenge has around a hundred gigantic stones arranged so as to create a circular pen on the Salisbury Plain Plateau. Very popular in the British Isles, as much as many hundreds of thousands of tourists come to England each year to visit Stonehenge.

Stonehenge aerial

This monument is one of the most mysterious on the planet since neither the builders nor the vocation are known. Theories about the usefulness of the Stonehenge site are as varied as opinions: vestiges of an ancient civilization, sacrificial site, astronomical tool, burial mound, place of communication with a form of extraterrestrial life, religious and therapeutic sanctuary... Nowadays, most people agree that the Stonehenge monoliths were built and aligned to fit astronomical patterns.


The builders of Stonehenge

Druids Stonehenge

During the 17th century, an archaeologist by the name of John Aubrey made the plausible assumption that the Stonehenge monoliths had been erected by former Celtic priests, druids, who gathered there during ceremonial rites at different times of the year. However, this theory is contradicted by modern carbon dating that pushes the age of the site to more than 1,000 years before the arrival of the first Celts. Historians and archaeologists are more of the opinion that Stonehenge is the work of several tribes and that the construction was done in several distinct phases, which some tools and artefacts found at Salisbury Plain tend to confirm.


An astronomical tool?

Aubrey holes

According to Gerald Hawkins, who has done a lot of work in Stonehenge Decoded in 1963, the Stonehenge site may be an old astronomical calculator. Based on the interpretation of the circle of 56 cavities surrounding the monoliths and referenced as aubrey holes, Hawkins says that the megalithic monument would have been used to predict eclipses, both lunar and solar. Other researchers, however, reject this hypothesis and maintain that knowledge of astronomy at that time did not allow for the development of such structures.

Rather a burial mound

Tumulus Stonehenge

The most convincing current theory comes from the French archaeologist and architect Didier Laroche who thinks that the Stonehenge site is actually a simple burial mound as it was commonly found in Great Britain during the Neolithic period. Although only one body, that of the Stonehenge Archer, has been found in Salisbury Plain, some researchers estimate that more than 200 individuals are buried on the site.


What if Stonehenge was a therapeutic sanctuary for pilgrims?

Stonehenge blue stones

More recently, in the early 2000s, two researchers speculated that Stonehenge would have been a therapeutic sanctuary for pilgrims after discovering the graves of diseased individuals. The rocks of Stonehenge, called blue stones, had according to them curative virtues for the wounded and the sick.