Stonehenge

By Doornek, Richard R. | School Arts, January 1989 | Go to article overview

Stonehenge


Doornek, Richard R., School Arts


STONEHENGE The ignorance, with fabulous discourse, Robbing fair Art and cunning of their right, Tells how those stones were by the devil's

force from Africa brought to Ireland in a night, And thence to Britannie, by magick course, From `giants' hand redeemed by Merlin's

sleight.

Looking back The wonderful and mysterious stone monument called Stonehenge has puzzled and mystified mankind for over fourteen centuries. The poem above was written by Samuel Danyel in 1624 in response to the earliest written acknowledgement of Stonehenge in the History of the Kings, "This year (483 a.d.) Giants' Dance (the gigantic arrangement of stones) was brought not by force (the work of men) but by Merlin's Art (magic), from Ireland to Stonehenge."

Imagine gathering a group of relatives, friends and neighbors to move some very large, fifty ton stones at least twenty miles. Imagine that you do not have any machines. Imagine that you do not have any wheels, or cables. Imagine also, that you do not have any roads--only dirt paths--to follow. Imagine that you would like to stand these stones up and make a sort of enclosure or meeting place, but you do not have any bulldozers or steam shovels or even any concrete. Think of how long it would take and how hard it would be to do this kind of work.

The history of Stonehenge Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain in Southwest England, is one of nearly nine hundred circular stone monuments found in the British Isles. Archaeologists have concluded that Stonehenge must have been constructed in three specific stages spanning more than seven hundred years. The first stage occurred about 2700 B.C. when the Neolithic people constructed a circular earthen bank about 300' (91m) in diameter. Inside the space they erected a large thirty-five ton crude boulder. This stone is now called the Heelstone or Sunstone.

The second stage occurred about 2100 B.C. when the Beaker people, named after their highly sophisticated pottery, arrived in Britain from the Continent through the Low Countries. They constructed a double circle of approximately eighty-two bluestones in the inner part of the Stonehenge circle. The bluestones came from the Prescelly Mountains of South Wales. They weigh up to seven tons each, and are named for their blue-gray color. The stones were probably carried on rafts up the Bristol Channel to the Avon estuary. It is estimated that it would have taken thirty-two men more than a month to move a stone from the river over land to the Stonehenge site.

The people of the Bronze Age (about 2000 B.C.) were the next architects of the Stonehenge monument. The architectural craftsmanship of these people is clearly reflected in the remarkable "post and lintel" structures which they introduced in Stonehenge. They erected a complete circular edifice, one-hundred feet in diameter, from a hard and durable sandstone called sarsen. …

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