A complex thousands of years old
The mysterious complex of menhirs and stone circles can be found on Salisbury Plain, about 140 kilometres south-west of London. The origins of this strange structure date back to around 3000 BC.
At that time, a circular ditch about 100 metres in diameter with a mound and the so-called Aubrey pits was created. These were named after John Aubrey, who discovered them in the 17th century. The very purpose of these 56 pits is unclear - but they most likely held wooden pillars or the stones themselves.
In any case, the ditch and some of the pits were also used as burial sites. According to the remains found, about 150 people were buried here, making Stonehenge the largest Late Neolithic cemetery in the UK.
Around five hundred years later, the first menhirs appeared inside the circle. The building is ultimately made up of two types of stone - larger sarsen and smaller bluestones transported from as far as Wales. The shape of Stonehenge has changed over the course of history, with new elements being created and the original ones rearranged.
Complex transport and handling
Of course, the question arises as to how the huge stones (some of which weighed up to 50 tonnes) were brought to the site by the builders of the time and how they were erected into the desired form. Mystery buffs are clear - Stonehenge is the work of aliens or wizards who used magical powers to help build it.
However, if we want to keep our feet firmly on the ground, then it is more likely that the stones were transported on tree trunks or by boat down the River Avon.
In working them, the people of the time could only use stone tools and had to use complex wooden structures to lift them.
Observatory, calendar or shrine?
And what did our ancestors actually go to such enormous lengths to achieve? The real reason remains shrouded in mystery to this day, but there are many theories. The site is said to have been used as a kind of astronomical observatory to observe celestial bodies. Another hypothesis speaks of a lunar calendar.
A very popular theory is that it was a shrine. The Celtic druids, who were supposed to have initiated the construction, are said to have performed ceremonies there. The menhirs may indeed have been a ritual site, but with the druids it is more complicated. The Celts do not appear in Britain until a thousand years later, so they could have had nothing to do with the building.
Some scientists believe the site was simply a meeting place for people. This claim removes any veil of mystery from the building. But many people don't want to let their mysteries go.
Perhaps that's why Stonehenge is most visited especially on the "magical" summer solstice. Many visitors speak of the strange energies they feel strongly here.