Stonehenge is quite possibly the most mysterious and intriguing ancient monument in the world. The fact that there’s no documented evidence to explain why it was built only adds to its appeal. Each year the World Heritage UNESCO site attracts around 1 million visitors from around the world.
Over the centuries it’s been the subject of folklore, legends and theories, and we are still no nearer to discovering all of its secrets.
If you want to discover more about this fascinating ancient site, here are 13 interesting facts about Stonehenge you probably don’t know.
1. It’s older than the Pyramids
Archaeologists estimate that construction began around 3100 BC. That’s over 1,000 years before the ancient Egyptians built the Giza Pyramids.
2. It’s a royal burial site
Whatever its original purpose, it’s clear that Stonehenge was considered a place of great importance. Human remains found include female skeletons buried with precious stones, suggesting it may have been a burial site for royalty and nobility.
3. The bluestones ‘ring’
The ancient rock formations have acoustic properties and ‘ring’ when tapped. They were believed to have healing properties and curative powers over illness and injury.
4. They aren’t local
They were actually transported from South Pembrokeshire, over 200 miles away.
5. They float
It’s thought the bluestones, weighing 4 tonnes each, were floated on rafts or in giant wicker baskets, along the Welsh coast and up the River Avon to Wiltshire.
6. They’re bigger than they appear
Over time the bluestones sank into the soil. In 1880 Charles Darwin claimed that earthworms were responsible for the stones sinking into the ground.
7. The builders lived nearby
The people who built Stonehenge are thought to have lived at an ancient settlement at nearby Dunnington Wall.
8. You can see what they looked like
The head at the visitor’s centre has been reconstructed from a skeleton that was excavated in 1864.
9. Stonehenge was sold at auction in 1915
Part of the Antrobus family estate in the early 1800s, Stonehenge was sold at auction in 1915 to local businessman, Cecil Chubb for the grand sum of £6,600. Apparently, he’d been sent along by his wife to buy dining chairs! He eventually donated the site to the nation.
10. The first tourists were Romans
Thousands of Roman artefacts including coins, jewellery and pottery, have been found during excavations, suggesting it was a shrine that was frequently visited during the Roman occupation.
11. James I was the first excavator
The first documented excavation took place in 1620 by the Duke of Buckingham under the orders of King James I.
12. The Aubrey Holes are named after a writer
The giant round chalk pits were named after archaeologist and writer, John Aubrey after he discovered them in 1666.
13. Stonehenge is not just a stone circle
Stonehenge also consists of monuments, timber structures, burial mounds and shrines over an area of around 12sq km. In 2014, researchers also discovered a series of hidden chapels in the surrounding area.
Have a look at our variety of Stonehenge tours here, and if you’ve got any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.