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Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. Stonehenge’s ring of standing stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.
Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BC.
Stonehenge has been a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882 when legislation to protect historic monuments was first successfully introduced in Britain. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage; the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.
Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. Deposits containing human bone date from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug, and continued for at least another five hundred years.

Stonehenge was produced by a culture that left no written records. Many aspects of Stonehenge remain subject to debate. A number of myths surround the stones.
The site, specifically the great trilithon, the encompassing horseshoe arrangement of the five central trilithons, the heel stone, and the embanked avenue, are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice. A natural landform at the monument’s location followed this line, and may have inspired its construction. The excavated remains of culled animal bones suggest that people may have gathered at the site for the winter rather than the summer. Further astronomical associations, and the precise astronomical significance of the site for its people, are a matter of speculation and debate.
There is little or no direct evidence revealing the construction techniques used by the Stonehenge builders. Over the years, various authors have suggested that supernatural or anachronistic methods were used, usually asserting that the stones were impossible to move otherwise due to their massive size. However, conventional techniques, using Neolithic technology as basic as shear legs, have been demonstrably effective at moving and placing stones of a similar size.[citation needed] How the stones could be transported by a prehistoric people without the aid of the wheel or a pulley system is not known. The most common theory of how prehistoric people moved megaliths has them creating a track of logs on which the large stones were rolled along. Another megalith transport theory involves the use of a type of sleigh running on a track greased with animal fat. Such an experiment with a sleigh carrying a 40-ton slab of stone was successful near Stonehenge in 1995. A dedicated team of more than 100 workers managed to push and pull the slab along the 18-mile journey from Marlborough Downs. Proposed functions for the site include usage as an astronomical observatory or as a religious site.
More recently two major new theories have been proposed. Professor Geoffrey Wainwright, president of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and Timothy Darvill, of Bournemouth University, have suggested that Stonehenge was a place of healing—the primeval equivalent of Lourdes. They argue that this accounts for the high number of burials in the area and for the evidence of trauma deformity in some of the graves. However, they do concede that the site was probably multifunctional and used for ancestor worship as well. Isotope analysis indicates that some of the buried individuals were from other regions. A teenage boy buried approximately 1550 BC was raised near the Mediterranean Sea; a metal worker from 2300 BC dubbed the “Amesbury Archer” grew up near the alpine foothills of Germany; and the “Boscombe Bowmen” probably arrived from Wales or Brittany, France. On the other hand, Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University has suggested that Stonehenge was part of a ritual landscape and was joined to Durrington Walls by their corresponding avenues and the River Avon. He suggests that the area around Durrington Walls Henge was a place of the living, whilst Stonehenge was a domain of the dead. A journey along the Avon to reach Stonehenge was part of a ritual passage from life to death, to celebrate past ancestors and the recently deceased. Both explanations were first mooted in the twelfth century by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who extolled the curative properties of the stones and was also the first to advance the idea that Stonehenge was constructed as a funerary monument. Whatever religious, mystical or spiritual elements were central to Stonehenge, its design includes a celestial observatory function, which might have allowed prediction of eclipse, solstice, equinox and other celestial events important to a contemporary religion.
There are other hypotheses and theories. According to a team of British researchers led by Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, Stonehenge may have been built as a symbol of “peace and unity”, indicated in part by the fact that at the time of its construction, Britain’s Neolithic people were experiencing a period of cultural unification.
Another idea has to do with a quality of the stones themselves: Researchers from the Royal College of Art in London have discovered that some of the monument’s stones possess “unusual acoustic properties”—when they are struck they respond with a “loud clanging noise”. According to Paul Devereux, editor of the journal Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture, this idea could explain why certain bluestones were hauled nearly 200 miles—a major technical accomplishment at the time. In certain ancient cultures rocks that ring out, known as lithophones, were believed to contain mystic or healing powers, and Stonehenge has a history of association with rituals. The presence of these “ringing rocks” seems to support the hypothesis that Stonehenge was a “place for healing”, as has been pointed out by Bournemouth University archaeologist Timothy Darvill, who consulted with the researchers. Some of the stones of Stonehenge were brought from near a town in Wales called Maenclochog, a name which means “ringing rock”.




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UNESCO logo.svg Welterbe.svg
Nombre descrito en la Lista del Patrimonio de la Humanidad
Stonehenge, Condado de Wiltshire, Inglaterra
Stonehenge es un monumento megalítico tipo crómlech, de finales del neolítico (siglo XX a. C.), situado cerca de Amesbury, en el condado de Wiltshire, Inglaterra, a unos quince kilómetros al norte de Salisbury.
El conjunto megalítico de Stonehenge, Avebury y sitios relacionados fue proclamado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la Unesco en 1986.1
Stonehenge está formado por grandes bloques de rocas metamórficas distribuidos en cuatro circunferencias concéntricas. El exterior, de treinta metros de diámetro, está formado por grandes piedras rectangulares de arenisca que, originalmente, estaban coronadas por dinteles, también de piedra, quedando hoy en día sólo siete en su mismo sitio. Dentro de esta hilera exterior se encuentra otro círculo de bloques más pequeños de arenisca azulada. Éste encierra una estructura con forma de herradura construida con piedras de arenisca del mismo color. En su interior permanece una losa de arenisca micácea conocida como «el Altar».
Distribución de rocas según se encuentran a principios del siglo XXI.
Todo el conjunto está rodeado por un foso circular que mide 104 m de diámetro. Dentro de este espacio se alza un bancal en el que aparecen 56 fosas conocidas como los «agujeros de Aubrey». El bancal y el foso están cortados por «la Avenida», un camino procesional de 23 metros de ancho y 3 kilómetros de longitud, aproximadamente. Cerca se halla la «Piedra del Sacrificio». Enfrente se encuentra la «Piedra Talón». Está compuesto de un gran círculo de grandes megalitos cuya construcción se fecha hacia el 2500 a. C. El círculo de arena que rodea los megalitos está considerado la parte más antigua del monumento, habiendo sido datada sobre el 3100 a. C.
En su comienzo era un monumento circular de carácter ritual rodeado por un talud y un foso, de modo similar a muchos otros situados en el sur de Inglaterra.
Finalmente el monumento tomó su aspecto actual, para lo cual transportaron 32 bloques de arenisca desde las montañas de Preseli, al suroeste de Gales y la piedra del «Altar» fue traída desde una región cercana a Milford Haven. Se especula actualmente con la posibilidad de que se hubieran movido utilizando bolas de madera o piedra o cojinetes a modo de rodamientos, y no con troncos como se pensó originalmente.

El complejo
Stonehenge en una foto aérea posterior a la Primera Guerra Mundial.
Stonehenge era parte de un complejo grande, que incluía círculos de piedra y avenidas ceremoniales. Las excavaciones realizadas por el proyecto Stonehenge Riverside, dirigido por el arqueólogo Mike Parker Pearson de la Universidad de Sheffield, permitieron encontrar muy cerca de Stonehenge, un asentamiento de cerca de mil casas. De acuerdo con las evidencias encontradas, estas casas solamente se usaban unos días al año y no se trataba de una aldea habitada permanentemente.
A poco más de tres kilómetros de Stonehenge, en Durrington Walls, fue encontrado un amplio trabajo circular en el terreno, veinte veces más extenso que Stonehenge, rodeado por una zanja y un banco. Allí estuvo levantada una construcción de madera, ahora denominada Woodhenge, con un diseño similar al de Stonehenge y construida en el mismo siglo. Woodhenge estaba unido al río Avon por una avenida ceremonial construida con piedras.

La finalidad que tuvo la construcción de este gran monumento se ignora, pero se supone que se utilizaba como templo religioso, monumento funerario u observatorio astronómico que servía para predecir las estaciones.
En el solsticio de verano, el Sol salía justo atravesando el eje de la construcción, lo que hace suponer que los constructores tenían conocimientos de astronomía. El mismo día, el Sol se ocultaba atravesando el eje del Woodhenge, donde se han encontrado multitud de huesos de animales y objetos que evidencian que se celebraban grandes fiestas, probablemente al anochecer.
Han sido encontrados 300 enterramientos de restos humanos previamente cremados, datados entre el año 3030 y 2340 a. C. Dado el poco número de entierros para un período tan largo, se estima que no se trata de un cementerio para la generalidad de los muertos sino para determinadas personas escogidas. La piedra era el símbolo de lo eterno; servía para marcar o delimitar puntos energéticos terrenales (telúricos) y hasta para albergar espíritus elementales. Así es que Stonehenge podría haber sido utilizada junto con Woodhenge en ceremonias religiosas de culto a los muertos y a la vida, tal vez simbolizada por el círculo de madera.

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