Location: Wiltshire, England
Year Added to World Heritage List: 1986
- (i)- shows amazing artistic and technological feats in prehistoric eras (the largest stones weighed over 40 tons and had to be moved up to 240 km)
- (ii)- this site has shaped the surrounding landscape for thousands of years and continues to inspire architects and artists and puzzle scientists and historians
- (iii)- provides “exceptional insight into the funerary and ceremonial practices in Britain in the Neolithic and Bronze Age” in ways no other archaeological sites can
Total Number of Heritage Sites in Great Britain: 28
Size of Stonehenge and Surrounding Sites: 4, 985 ha (1ha=10,000 meters squared)
Time Period of Origin: Neolithic and Bronze Age (built gradually between 3100 and 1100 BC)
Stonehenge and the surrounding sites represent Great Britain as an icon of a history of power. For the purpose of this assignment, I will focus on Stonehenge and supplement it with information from the lesser known surrounding archaeological sites.
To begin, Stonehenge is one of the largest collections of megaliths in the world. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online states that a megalith is “a very large usually rough stone used in prehistoric cultures as a monument or building block”. What differentiates Stonehenge from other megaliths is that the people who built it obviously knew what they were doing as far as engineering and architecture, and it still has scholars wondering what astronomical meaning it might have had. One theory is that it was created as a “sanctuary to worship the sun”. As shown in the map included, it is composed of two different kinds of stone (bluestone and sarsen) arranged in several circular rings which encircle each other. It was built in several steps, beginning with an earth formation called a hedge (composed of a ditch and a bank) and continued with the inner ring of stones (which was actually never completed) and finished with the larger outer ring. Scholars estimate that construction was begun in the late Neolithic period by the indigenous people. Some scholars theorize that the site was abandoned, and begun again by a new people (perhaps immigrants from the continent). However, that theory is not supported by any archaeological evidence. It is most likely that the indigenous people just discovered more advanced means of construction (bones of animals as tools v. shaped metal) which accounted for the differences.
Although Stonehenge is the most widely known, it is only one of many archaeological sites in the area. Surrounding are “the Avenue, the Cursuses, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, and the densest concentration of burial mounds in Britain”. Basically, there are a lot of other monuments, burial grounds, and even what is speculated to be the location of an ancient Roman camp in the area. These sites are brimming full of artifacts and ecofacts, some of which are tools made of bones, stones, or various metals, and also pottery, jewelry, and even teeth. This suggests that the area preserved very well.
This site and the surrounding others are protected by the English Heritage society, and are not in any danger.