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18 Incredible Facts about Stonehenge You Probably Didn’t Know (2023 Edition)

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Looking for fun and interesting facts about Stonehenge?

One of the world’s most mysterious and ancient landmarks, Stonehenge has captivated the imagination of countless people across the globe, from scholars to poets, scientists to travelers, and ordinary folk everywhere.

The prehistoric monument, located in Wiltshire in southern England, is one of the world’s most famous and oldest man-made structures. But what is so special about Stonehenge? Due to it being founded over 5,000 years ago at a time when written records were not kept, it’s origins and purposes remain shrouded in mystery.

What we do know is the monolithic monument has connections to the rituals of ancient Druids, astrology, was constructed using incredible and near-impossible feats of engineering, and was thought to have healing powers due to the ringing sounds and vibrations caused when the stones were struck.

There are countless references in popular culture – in film and television shows, and The Beatles, Black Sabbath, and Spinal Tap have all included the stones in their music.

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Stonehenge Map

Today, the site is so popular with visitors, over a million people flock to the landmark each year. It’s become endangered due to erosion and there are now ropes to prevent the public from touching the stones. There are exceptions though – during the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice, visitors are permitted to stroll between the stones.

Since its rediscovery in the 18th Century, the enigmatic nature of the site, along with the wealth of history of a landmark that has been around longer than almost any other man-made structure, has made Stonehenge infamous and its popularity is ever-growing. This in turn has given rise to extensive research by scientists and archaeologists who have been able to unearth some incredible facts and unravel the layers of mystery and information surrounding the site.

18 Fun Facts about Stonehenge [2023 Edition]

A collection of the most strange and interesting facts about Stonehenge history and origins, when was Stonehenge discovered, and why is Stonehenge important.

What is Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is an enormous man-made circle of standing stones. The monument was built by our ancestors over the course of many centuries, many thousands of years ago. It is one of the world’s most iconic prehistoric landmarks, and also one of the world’s biggest unsolved mysteries.

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Where is Stonehenge?

The famous monument is located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. It’s 8 miles away from Salisbury, and is situated just off the Amesbury Bypass (A303) on the left side of the road going towards to Andover.

When was Stonehenge built?

How old is Stonehenge? Work began on the stone circle around 5,000 years ago during the New Stone Age, but it took over a thousand years to build, over four stages. Archaeologists understand that the final changes were made around 1,500BC, in the early Bronze Age.

Stonehenge Facts: History & Origins

Here are some facts about Stonehenge history and its mysterious origins.

1. Stonehenge was built over several stages spanning centuries

The prehistoric monument went through various transformations starting over 5,000 years ago and didn’t begin as a circle of stones. It was originally a simple earthwork enclosure where prehistoric people buried their dead. The circular earth bank and ditch that surrounds the stones, can be dated back to around 3,100 BC, while the inner stone circle of the monument, was erected in the late Neolithic period, around 2,500 BC.

Over the following few hundred years, the stones were re-arranged and new ones added, with the formation as we know it today, being finalized between 1,930 and 1,600 BC.

Source: English Heritage

2. Its made of two different types of stone

There are two different types of stone used at Stonehenge: the sarsen stones are the larger, outer stones, and the bluestones make up the smaller inner stones. Sarsen stones are a type of sandstone found naturally in the surrounding area, about 20 miles from the site. The bluestones, however, originate from the Preseli Hills in south west Wales. over 140 miles away.

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3. Transporting the stones remains a mystery

One of the biggest mysteries about Stonehenge is how the enormous rocks arrived at the site from a great distance away. An average saddens tone weighs 25 tonnes whereas the bluestones weigh between 2-5 tonnes each. There are numerous theories on how these stones arrived at Stonehenge, including the idea that the bluestones were brought over by glaciers. The most likely theory is that they were transported by humans using a network of waterways and hauling them over land.

4. Construction required incredible feats of engineering

It took sheer ingenuity to get the stones to stand upright. The builders eventually went with a technique more closely associated with woodwork than masonry. They created mortice holes and protruding tenons to slot the stones together, using tongue and groove joints. When the hole was dug for the stones, timber poles were places at the back of the hole as a brace support. The stone was then moved into position and hauled upwards with ropes while rubble was packed into the hole to secure the stone in place.

5. Roman artifacts have been found at the site

Here’s one of the more exciting Stonehenge facts for kids: various Roman artifacts including pottery, stone and metal items, and coins, have been found during the many excavations at Stonehenge.

What is special about the Stonehenge?

Not only is Stonehenge a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, the landmark is also the most architecturally sophisticated, prehistoric stone circle on earth, with Avebury being the largest in the world. Along with inter-related monuments and their associated landscapes in the region, they are helping us to better understand the mysteries of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial practices.

18 Incredible Facts about Stonehenge You Probably Didn't Know (2023 Edition) 1
3D rendering of Stonehenge. Blue = stone. White = earthworks. Solid red arrow points towards the rising sun at summer solstice.

Weird & Fascinating Facts about Stonehenge

Below are some of the most strange and curious facts about Stonehenge.

6. Stonehenge is historically linked with Astronomy

Stonehenge has a long and fascinating relationship with astronomy, according to the 2010 English Heritage reports. This is especially due to the fact the monument is aligned in the direction of the sunrise of the summer solstice and the sunset of the winter solstice. This was first discovered in 1720 by the pioneering British archaeologist William Stukeley. Since then, many renowned astrologers have studied Stonehenge, trying to find connections between its construction and the stars.

The Heel stone was originally thought to be the precursor of Stonehenge.

7. It was built by people who left no written records

This is the main reason why there is so much mystery and so many unanswered questions surrounding the site.

8. Stonehenge is linked to an Arthurian legend

According to legend, the wizard Merlin removed Stonehenge from Ireland, where it had been built by ancient giants, and rebuilt it on Salisbury Plain as a memorial to 3,000 noblemen slain in battle with the Saxons.

merlin and giants

🚨 New Discovery alert!

It appears that Stonehenge may have originally been built in Wales! This incredible new revelation came to light in 2021 after evidence of a stone circle suspiciously similar to Stonehenge was discovered in Wales, very close to the quarry where some of the bluestones originate from. This would suggest that the stones stood in Wales for many years, before being uprooted and dragged to Wiltshire to form the Stonehenge we know today.Source: The Guardian

9. It may have been a burial ground

In 2013 the cremated remains of 50,000 bones were excavated at the site, belonging to 63 men, women and children. These bones date back to 3,000-2,5000 BC. This suggests that Stonehenge could have been a burial ground at the beginning of its history.

10. Theories suggest Stonehenge was part of a larger sacred area

The grounds of Salisbury Plain, where Stonehenge is located, is a chalk plateau stretching over 300 square miles. Though Stonehenge may have been a burial site, its not the first sacred monument in the area. Three large timber posts erected on site date back over 10,000 years, which suggests that Salisbury Plain was already a sacred area long before Stonehenge.

Following a four-year scientific study using radar and non-invasive techniques to survey the area, the 2014 results revealed a number of hidden Neolithic shrines which gives yet more evidence to the theory that Stonehenge was one small piece of a much bigger puzzle.

Photo taken by Inger Schulstad at Stonehenge in 1963.

11. The stones are “ringing rocks” with healing powers

The monument’s stones possess unusual healing and acoustic properties. When stuck, they vibrate and produce a loud clanging sound. This may explain why they were transported over such a long distance. Vibrational frequencies are often praised for healing properties, and in many ancient cultures such rocks are believed to contain the power to heal. In fact, Maenclochog means “ringing rock”.

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12. The body of a decapitated man was excavated at the site

The remains of a 7th century Saxon man was found in 1923.

13. There is a circle of 56 pits in Stonehenge

Inside the enclosure sits a circle of 56 pits, known as the Aubrey Holes (named after John Aubrey, who discovered them in 1666). It’s exact purpose remains unknown, though some believe the pits once held stones or posts.

14. The earliest known realistic painting of Stonehenge was produced in the 16th century

Despite the stones being in existence for thousands of years, the earliest realistic painting drawn on site wasn’t produced until sometime between 1573-1575.

stonehenge painting
The earliest known painting of Stonehenge, drawn on site with watercolours by Lucas de Heere, circa 1573-1575.

15. Charles Darwin discovered why the stones are sinking

In the 1880s, Charles Darwin was carrying out some of the first scientifically recorded excavations at the site, and upon noticing that the monument was sinking, he concluded that earthworms were largely to blame for the stones sinking through the soil.

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16. Stonehenge was in a pitiful state by the 20th century

By the start of the 20th century, there had been over 10 recorded excavations which had resulted in several of the sarsens to lean, and the site becoming a ‘sorry state’, according to English Heritage. As a result, the Society of Antiquaries lobbies the site’s owner, Sir Edmond Antrobus, and offered to help with conservation.

Stonehenge postcard published by Mabbett of Salisbury. Circa 1907.

17. There was a battle near Stonehenge in 1985

The Battle of the Beanfield was a clash between a convoy of around 600 New Age travelers and 1,300 police that happened over the course of several hours on 1st June 1985. The battle erupted when the travelers, who were en-route to Stonehenge to organize the Stonehenge Free Festival, were stopped at a roadblock a short distance from the monument. The confrontation, which turned violent, saw 8 police and 16 officers being hospitalized and 537 of the travelers arrested in one of the biggest mass-arrests in English history.

18. It draws more than 1 million visitors a year

The ancient myths and persistent questions surrounding Stonehenge make the site incredibly popular and one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the planet.

Check out this informative and fascinating video below: Decoding the ancient astronomy of Stonehenge:

What is the mystery of Stonehenge?

A new BBC report published in June 2020 revealed the origin of the giant sarsen stones by the help of a missing piece of the site which was finally returned after 60 years.

Archaeologists pinpointed the source of the 15 enormous stones, each weighing over 20 tonnes, to an area 15 miles north of the site, near Marlborough Downs. The smaller bluestones have already been traced to the Preseli Hills in Wales, but the larger sarsens had been impossible to identify until now.

And finally.. are you allowed to touch Stonehenge?

A question many people ask is – can you touch the stones at the iconic monument?

Up until a few years ago you could wander between the stones and in the 70s and 80s people were even allowed to touch and climb the stones. This caused damage and serious erosion, so now the monument is roped off, and the closest you can get to the stones is 10 yards. However, it is possible to walk among the stones outside of public opening hours, on Special Access Visits. 

During the summer and winter solstices (21st June and 21st December), visitors are permitted access to the inner circle, though there are conditions – its forbidden to bring alcohol and drugs, and you can’t touch or stand on the stones.

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FAQs about Stonehenge

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Stonehenge:

What are 3 interesting facts about Stonehenge?

Here are 3 lesser-known facts about Stonehenge:
The stones are “ringing rocks” with healing powers – The monument’s stones possess unusual healing and acoustic properties when they vibrate.
It was built by people who left no written records – the main reason why there are so many unanswered questions surrounding the site.
The body of decapitated man was excavated at the site in 1923.

What’s so special about Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is a world-renowned ancient stone circle with immense historical significance. Constructed 4,500 years ago, its massive and finely dressed sarsen stones make it a unique and awe-inspiring monument. While its exact purpose remains uncertain, Stonehenge showcases the power, wealth, and religious beliefs of its builders.

Who built Stonehenge and why?

The builders of Stonehenge remain unknown, but it is believed to have been constructed by chieftains, aristocrats, and priests between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Its purpose is presumed to be religious, showcasing the power, wealth, and beliefs of the builders.

What is the biggest mystery about Stonehenge?

The biggest mystery surrounding Stonehenge is its exact purpose and the methods used to construct it. Despite extensive research and theories, there is still no definitive answer as to why it was built and how ancient people managed to transport and arrange the massive stones.

Is Stonehenge older than pyramids?

No, the pyramids are older than Stonehenge. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest Egyptian pyramid, dates back to around 2600 BC, while Stonehenge was built between 3200 and 1500 BC. The pyramids predate Stonehenge by several centuries.

How long did it take to build Stonehenge?

The construction of Stonehenge is estimated to have taken about 1,500 years to complete, with work on the monument beginning around 3100 B.C. and being finished approximately 3,500 years ago. It was built in four stages over this extended period of time.

What religion built Stonehenge?

The specific religious beliefs of the people who built Stonehenge are not definitively known. However, it is believed that Stonehenge served as a religious site and was likely constructed by chieftains, aristocrats, and priests who wanted to express their power and wealth. Its exact religious purpose remains a mystery.

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Stonehenge Facts Wikipedia: General Information

More information, statistics and general facts about Stonehenge, updated as of 2023. (Source: Wikipedia)

  • Location: Wiltshire, England
  • Country: England, United Kingdom
  • Landmark type: monument
  • Materials: Sarsen, Bluestone
  • Height: 4.1 meters high (13ft) per stone
  • Owner: The Crown
  • Founded: The Bronze Age (circa 3,500 BC)
  • Status: UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1986)
  • Official Name: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
  • Management: English Heritage
  • Website: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge

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stonehenge sunset

So there you have it – 18 of the weirdest, peculiar, and fun facts about Stonehenge. Thank you for reading! I hope you learn something new and fascinating from this article, and that it inspires you to visit Stonehenge someday!

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