As well as the larger sarsens smaller stones were added called ‘bluestones’. They’re named as such due to their slightly blue tinge when broken or when wet. These stones still remain something of a marvel, having been transported from the Preseli Hills in the south of Wales. There’s no way of telling for certain how these 2 to 5 ton stones were carried over 250 km to the site however it’s most likely that they were carried across water networks.
What is Stonehenge?
The truth is we still don’t know what Stonehenge’s purpose in history truly was; it’s been tied to all sorts of theories over the years from a druidic ritual site to an ancient graveyard. Though it may have become the former for more modern neopagan religions the site predates the original, as for the second theory it may not be far off.
A popular theory is that Stonehenge may have been something of an ancient centre of healing as well as being a burial ground and place for remembrance and worship of ancestors. The large number of burials here, of which many of the bodies show evidence of trauma deformity are a main indicator that this may have been the case. Another factor is that the buried individuals were not simply local folk but people from different lands. Notable examples of this include the “Amesbury Archer”, a metal worker dating back to 2300 BC who according to isotope analysis grew up amongst the alpine foothills of Germany along with a teenage boy buried around the year 1550 BC who was raised near the Mediterranean Sea.
Another supporting point for this theory list in those Welsh bluestones mentioned above. These stones have an extraordinary acoustic property to that of your average rock, when struck they create an unusual clanging noise. In history, certain cultures believed these ‘lithopone’s’ contained mystic healing powers which could explain why these were carried such a long distance from their original home in Wales. Fun Fact; the name of the town Maenclochog (near where these stones were farmed) actually means “ringing rock”. The stone was even used for church bells up until the 1700s.
There have also been a number of more fanciful stories told in the country’s folklore. One story tells of the devil bringing the stones from Ireland and placing them as they are in a bid to confuse the people of England, claiming they’d never know where they came from. A friar them replied “That’s what you think!” so the devil responded by throwing one of the stones at him, striking the man’s heel. That stone would be the heel stone. Another story tells of the great wizard Merlin himself building the monument as a memorial for those that fought against the Saxons.
As it stand’s we can’t say for sure what Stonehenge’s purpose truly was, though it’s still a marvel to behold and well worth a visit. If you do take the trip you’ll also be able to visit the fantastic visitors centre that holds plenty more information about the stone circle’s history, along with a great example of a Neolithic village and of course a gift shop just to prove you’ve been there.