Over the centuries, little has fascinated the public more than the mysterious Stonehenge. Why was it built? What happened there? Who built it? An entire series of Nova is devoted to these questions and more.
Researchers have spent enormous amounts of time for over a century sifting through clues about its origin. Early on, it became clear it was a burial site, but questions of whose cremated bodies rested there aren’t completely settled. Were they sacrifices, the religious, the elite, warriors— making Stonehenge an ancient day Arlington National Cemetary? Charred wood, animal bones, pottery, and other evidence of feasts have been also uncovered.
Archeologists determined the exact original locations of each rock and fallen rocks have been returned to their places. Some have been given names corresponding to certain legends: Heel Stone, Slaughter Stone, and Fairy Stone to name a few. Sunrise at the summer solstice shines through Stonehenge adjacent to the Heel Stone and directed toward the exact center. Similarly the winter solstice can be detected.
It took several stages and centuries to complete Stonehenge. Deer antlers were used as tools in the first, obviously primitive, stage. Some of the rocks dubbed bluestones make ringing sounds when struck, and churches made bells from them into the 18th century. People attributed healing powers to these mystical sounds, suggesting the reason they moved the huge stones over a 100miles. The most common theory of how they were moved is that they were rolled along on logs.
This blog is intended to highlight a most recent discovery related to the bluestones. A large-scale replica — 1/12 of the original — provided a means of further testing of its properties as a whole. The worthwhile experiment determined that the arrangement of the stones amplify and enrich musical tones for those inside the circle only. Further, the positioning of the stones actually contains the sound to the surrounded area. I envision the Whos down in Whoville containing their Christmas singing from the Grinch.
Was this property intentional? If so, why? Courtesy or privacy? Another mystery! My own suspicion is that the use of Stonehendge evolved over the centuries, making it difficult to make single conclusions about its purpose.
Other sources: http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/glossary/stonehenge.html
Nova Series on PBS