Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Makenna. Makenna Wonders, “When was the stonehenge built, and why?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Makenna!
Today’s Wonder of the Day brings us to the English countryside. There, we’ll learn about a mysterious collection of rocks that are famous around the world. What are we talking about? Stonehenge, of course!
In southern England on the Salisbury Plain stands a circle of rocks called Stonehenge. People all over the world recognize pictures of this site. It’s one of the world’s most famous discoveries and one of Earth’s greatest mysteries.
What is Stonehenge? Who built it? Why was it built? These questions remain largely unanswered today, some 4,600 years after Stonehenge was built. The prehistoric peoples who had the answers left no written records. There is no shortage of theories about Stonehenge, though.
Ancient folklore holds that Stonehenge was made by King Arthur‘s wizard, Merlin. These stories say Merlin used large stones from Ireland that had been brought there by giants. Others say the stones were placed thousands of years ago by invaders from Denmark.
Still others believe the stones are the ruins of an ancient Roman temple. Could Stonehenge have been built as a cemetery for an ancient ruling dynasty? A popular modern theory is that Stonehenge is a landing site for alien spacecraft!
Today, most experts agree that Stonehenge was a burial site. This is based on the artifacts and remains found there. Of course, the area could have served more than one purpose. Some believe it may have also been an ancient healing site. The people at that time may have thought the stones had magical powers. Others think it was a site used for ancestor worship.
Stonehenge may have also served as some sort of ancient calendar. Experts who support this theory point to the fact that, at times, Stonehenge aligns with the Sun and the Moon. They believe Stonehenge could have also been used as part of rituals related to the changing seasons.
Stonehenge was first studied in the 1660s by John Aubrey. Since that time, thousands of scientists have learned more about it. They think Stonehenge was formed in stages over 1,000 years or more. Some estimates place construction time at over 20 million hours!
Modern visitors are fascinated by Stonehenge. How did ancient peoples move the huge sandstone blocks? Each weighs about 50,000 pounds, and they were moved over 19 miles. And how did they place them on top of one another? Without all the benefits of modern tools, how did they accomplish such a feat? No one is quite sure.
Did you know that Stonehenge had neighbors? It’s true! Experts today believe the ancient site was connected in some way to the nearby Durrington Walls. New discoveries are still being made at this site today.
One thing is certain about Stonehenge: It’s an architectural marvel. It’s sure to amaze people for years to come. Regardless of whether we learn who built it and why, it will continue to spark curiosity and imagination for centuries in the future.
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2