Wiltshire (English Heritage)

Stonehenge today is simply the final, ruinous phase of a prehistoric ritual site which was much altered during some 3600 years of use. It is unique, and considered by many to be the most important prehistoric monument in Britain.

the henge ditch

Beany Z (with the help of his hairy-armed assistant) shows us the circular earthwork which is the earliest phase of the site. It is approximately 5000 years old and consists of an earthen bank and ditch, with a smaller bank (counterscarp) on the outside. The next phase (4900-4600 years ago) consisted of timber settings, surviving only as postholes, in a complicated pattern which defies interpretation.

The third phase started with the addition of a double horseshoe of bluestones from Preseli Mountain in Wales, brought to the site around 4500 years ago. These were later moved to new positions within the final circle, and Beany Z indicates one of them. Although they are dwarfed by the larger Sarsens, most are c.2 metres high.

a bluestone

The sarsen stone circle phase is thought to have been started c.4400 years ago and lasted 700 years. The sarsen stones were brought from the Marlborough Downs, about 20 miles north of the site, and erected to form a horseshoe of 'trilithons' (three stones - two uprights and a lintel) and a circle of 30 stones capped in a continuous ring of lintels.

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