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Stonehenge

 
   
 
Stonehenge was built by the people who lived in and around what is now Salisbury Plain (Wales). Construction began nearly 5,000 years ago with the digging of a large circular ditch and a two-metre high bank piled alongside it. The circle of huge upright stones, topped by other huge stones called lintels, which we all think of as the real Stonehenge, was built about 4,000 years ago.
Cutting, shaping and lifting the stones was an enormous task. Some of the stones were carried by rafts on rivers and then dragged over land, from as far away as Wales — at least 160 kilometres from the site. The people, or to be more accurate, series of different peoples who worked on Stonehenge possessed only primitive tools. But, even so, there is no real mystery about how Stonehenge was built. It took time and was backbreaking work. The monument must have meant a great deal to those who built it.
Most Stonehenge experts believe that it was used as a temple — a place where religious ceremonies were conducted. Since no one knows anything about the religious beliefs or rites of the ancient builders, we can only guess what sort of ceremonies were once held there. Most people think that they probably had something to do with the movement of the sun, the moon and the stars.
By the time the Romans conquered Britain, around 2,000 years ago, Stonehenge must have been abandoned. The Romans certainly never mention it in their records, though they must have seen it. It was a place of no importance to them.
It was not until the 17th century that the people of Britain began to take an interest in the ancient monument. No one was even sure where the name Stonehenge came from or what it meant. There are many other stone circles or similar monuments scattered throughout the British Isles, indeed throughout Europe. But Stonehenge is by far the most famous.

 
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