Tuesday, 1 April 2008

stonehenge secrets to be revealed?

Photo: Morguefile

Stonehenge has long fascinated people. Why was it built? How was it done?

Stonehenge was built in several stages. Before 3000 BCE, earthworks and timber posts were constructed. About 2500 BCE, the first stones (the smaller bluestones, weighing about 5 tons each) were transported 380 km from Wales, probably by sea, and erected. Over the next few centuries, the bluestones were re-arranged and the massive sarsen stones were transported from 20 km away and erected.

It is generally accepted that Stonehenge had an astronomical purpose and a religious or cultic purpose - with ancient societies so dependent on weather, the two purposes may well have merged. However recently, experts have proposed another purpose - as a centre of healing (the bluestone was believed to have healing properties).

And so the first archaeological dig within Stonehenge in 40 years is commencing, with a pit being excavated to try to find bluestone chips which it is believed may have once covered the whole site, and organic material under one of the bluestones to determine an accurate date for its erection.

You can read all about the excavation, and keep up with progress, on this BBC TV site, and read background information on this English Heritage site.

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