Although the prehistoric stone circle popularly known as ‘The Stonehenge’ is regarded as one of the world’s most famous monuments, the mystery behind its existence and its real purpose is still obscure.
Located in Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, England, the construction of the Stonehenge began around 3100 B.C. and continued in phases up until about 1600 B.C., spanning the neolithic period to the bronze age. The Stonehenge is believed to be vitally important to the ancient people who built it, but the monument's purpose has been the topic of widespread speculations over the years.
From an ancient healing centre to an alien landing site, wild theories about the purpose of Stonehenge have persisted since the middle ages. Here are some of the major reasons Stonehenge might exist.
A Burial Site For Aristocrats:
According to a new study, Stonehenge may have originally been a cemetery for the elite. Remains of human bones were first discovered from the Stonehenge site more than a century ago. But, at the time, archaeologists thought the remains were trivial and reburied them. Now, researchers have re-exhumed more than 50,000 cremated bone fragments from where they were discarded, representing 63 separate individuals. However, the researchers also discovered that the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form.
A Place For Healing:
One of the theory suggests that, Stone Age people saw Stonehenge as a place with healing properties. In 2008, archaeologists reported a large number of skeletons recovered from around Stonehenge which showed signs of illness or injury. The archaeologists at that time also reported discovering fragments of the Stonehenge bluestones, the first stones erected at the site, that had been chipped away by ancient people, perhaps to use as talismans for protective or healing purposes.
A Giant Concert Venue:
A university professor with an expertise in sound said that he believed Stonehenge was created as a dance arena for listening to "trance-style" music. Rupert Till said that the standing stones had the ideal acoustics to amplify a "repetitive trance rhythm". He used a computer model to conduct experiments in sound, which he said revealed that the 5,000 year old monument may have been used for ancient raves.
An Ancient Calculator:
In 1963 astronomer Gerald Hawkins proposed the theory that Stonehenge was utilized for predicting eclipses of the sun and moon. He identified 165 key points in the Stonehenge complex and found that many of them strongly correlated with the rising and setting positions of the sun and the moon. Some Archaeo-astronomers have claimed that Stonehenge represents an ‘ancient observatory’. Archaeological evidence reveals that pigs were slaughtered at Stonehenge in December and January, suggesting possible rituals at the monument around the winter solstice. The site also faces the summer solstice sunrise, and both summer and winter solstices are still celebrated there today.
An Alien Landing Site:
At the time of Stonehenge's creation, the wheel was not even invented. Some of the biggest stones weigh 50 tons, but since the civilisation that built it left no written records behind, there is no evidence for sure how they did it. In 1968, Swiss author Erich von Däniken claimed in his book, ‘Chariots of the Gods’ that the technologies and religions of many ancient civilisations were given to them by extraterrestrials. This makes the argument more plausible. This influenced the building of Stonehenge as well as the Egyptian pyramids and Easter Island.
A Sex Symbol:
In 2003, Anthony Perks, a researcher at the University of British Columbia suggested that Stonehenge was, in fact, an ancient sex symbol constructed to look like the female sexual organ. He said that, Stonehenge could represent, symbolically, the opening by which Earth Mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which the ancient people so depended.
A Team-Building Exercise:
Another theory suggests that perhaps, Stonehenge was something like an ancient team-building exercise. Researchers from the University College London claimed that Stonehenge was built as part of an annual winter solstice ritual which resembled ‘Glastonbury festival and a motorway building scheme at the same time’. As many as 4,000 people may have gathered at the site each year, when the entire population numbered only tens of thousands. Tests on remains found at the site revealed that people came to the site from as far as the Scottish Highlands at the same time every year to feast, and built the monument together.
A Druid Temple
After Antiquary John Aubrey first proposed the theory, many believed that Stonehenge was a Druid temple in the 17th and 18th centuries. According to English Heritage he surveyed Stonehenge in the late 17th century, and his studies of stone circles in other parts of Britain led him to conclude that they were built by the native inhabitants. Since the Druids were the only prehistoric British priests mentioned in the classical texts, he attributed Stonehenge to the Druids.
Yet as no written records exist, this theory, like all those about Stonehenge’s purpose, can only remain a matter of speculation.
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Title image: famouswonders