Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a circular monument of standing stones, earthworks and burial mounds located in Wiltshire, England that was built between 2000 and 3000 BCE. It is a British Scheduled Ancient Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important pilgrimage site for many modern Pagans and followers of Magico-religious paths rooted in ancient Celtic culture as well as New Age practitioners interested in the energetic character of the place. It is a destination for solstice celebrations due to the alignment of some of the stones with the sunrise on summer solstice and the sunset on the winter solstice.

No one is sure who built Stonehenge or why, but it seems certain that it has been a place of spiritual significance for millennia. It was probably used by many different groups of people who each put their own stamp on it. Archaeologists have located post holes that may have dated 5000 years before the first stones were believed to have been erected, suggesting that large wooden beams were erected there before the stones and stood there long enough to rot in their post holes. These wooden beams seem to have been placed in an East-West arrangement and may have had ritual significance.

A circular ditch was in place about 3000 years BCE stones and animal bones were placed in the bottom of this ditch that were carefully cared for and seem to be older than the ditch itself, suggesting that they were existing sacred objects that existed independently before they were intentionally brought and placed there. In addition, the cremated remains of men, women, and children dated to around the same time were found in a single pit on the site. More than 25 such burial pits were found on the site, created over the 200 year period after the first was created. Some archaeologists believe that the first bluestones erected were meant to serve as burial markers. After this, nothing seems to have happened at Stonehenge for about 100 years.

Then, around 2150 BCE, about 80 stones weighing up to 4 tons were brought from as far away as 250 miles away to create a series of horseshoe shapes and circles. There are many theories as to how prehistoric peoples managed this, but no one knows for sure what techniques they use. In later periods, stones were rearranged, more pits dug and over 100 carvings of bronze age axeheads and daggers were inscribed into four of the sandstones.

No one knows for sure what the true significance of Stonehenge was to the ancients, though much folklore surrounds them. It is believed to have served as a calendar marking the solstice and equinoxes for spiritual purposes. Evidence suggests that people gathered there at both the winter and summer solstice, but examining the remains of animals that were slaughtered at the site suggests that the winter solstice received much more action.

In 1915, a man named Cecil Chubb purchased Stonehenge at auction for £6,600. Three years later he donated it to the Crown and it has been the property of Britain since. Access to Stonehenge is restricted, but it is granted during specific hours and it is made available to the public for extended hours on the solstices and these dates see significant attendance.

Today, many Neo-Pagan groups consider Stonehenge sacred ground. The Ancient Order of Druids began pilgrimages thereafter a mass initiation ceremony in 1905 and many other Druid organizations have come into being since and many other Neo-Pagan groups also revere Stonehenge.

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