Stonehenge seems to have been constructed in three phases, covering the period from 2200B.C. to 1200B.C. It was magnificent feat of megalithic engineering. The gigantic sarsen stones, great sandstone boulders arranged like doorways and capped with stone lintels, weigh up to 50 tons and were dragged to the site from the Marlborough Downs 30km (20 miles) to the north, in a time when wheeled vehicles were unknown. The bluestones forming the smaller pillars came from Prescelly in South West Wales, over 161km (100 miles) away.
The 'how' of Stonehenge construction is intriguing enough, but the important question is why the prehistoric builders should labour for centuries to build such an awe inspiring monument. As far back as the 18th century Stonehenge investigators realised that the stones that make up Stonehenge are aligned to the midsummer sunrise.
From the centre of the circle, facing out through one of the massive arches, to the ceremonial entrance, it is possible to see the sun rise directly over the great pillar known as the Heel Stone.
Detailed analysis has shown a whole series of astronomical alignments which would explain why Stonehenge was built in this precise spot, regardless of the problems posed by bringing stones from distant quarries.
Many experts now believe that Stonehenge was an astronomical observatory, built under the instructions of astronomer-priests who used it to chart the movements of the celestial bodies and draw up a calendar for planting, harvesting and breeding cattle. If the sun and moon were regarded as gods, this would explain the grandeur of a structure that could have served as a religious centre, a place of worship and ritual. Cremated human remains have been found at the site, which might indicate human sacrifice, or possibly the funeral rites of revered leaders.
From the earliest times there has been a belief in the magical properties of the stones themselves and some modern investigators are convinced that all stone circles are linked by lines of force that carry a powerful psychic energy.
The idea is rooted in the 1920's discovery by Alfred Watkins that prehistoric sites seem to be rooted in straight lines across the countryside. He called these lines 'leys' and decided they were tracks used by prehistoric man, using the sited as landmarks. Since then the idea has grown up that leys are invisible lines of earth energy, felt by people who are more in tune with the rhythms of nature than modern man and marked by sacred sites.
A spot like Stonehenge where several leys converge is like a powerhouse storing huge amounts of energy, energy that could have been harnessed by the builders to accomplish what seems to be an impossible task.
Remarkable numbers of UFO sightings have been recorded at megalithic sites, especially Stonehenge, where film-makers making a pictorial record of the stones in 1977 captured strange flying objects giving off brilliant lights, one hovering motionless over the site for 50 minutes. Some ley enthusiasts maintain that extra-terrestrial visitors are attracted by the elemental force of the ley centres.
The Stonehenge Master Plan.
To restore its dignity and its sense of isolation on an ancient landscape of chalk downland and to preserve the archeological sites forever. Stonehenge is a World Heritage site and there are 450 ancient monuments in the area which are of national importance. The improvements have had to take into account these sites which are scattered around the landscape - only 5 will be affected by the improvements.
Estimated cost £125 million.
The A303 will be placed in a 2km tunnel, removing the road form sight and sound of the stones. (cut and cover technique to cause minimum disruption to traffic). The noise level will be reduced from 60 decibels to 33 decibels, from traffic roar to birdsong. A full range of shops and eating places will be provided at the Countess roundabout together with car and coach parks, interpretation and educational facilities. It will be run commercially by the private sector.
The idea is that from here there will be a free shuttle bus service which will take you to a drop off point and from here you will be able to walk to the Stones. (approx 2 km).
We suggest you visit sooner rather than later!