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Photographer's Note

A view of Stonehenge on a wintery day in the UK.

One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones and sits at the centre of the densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.

Archaeologists believe that the iconic stone monument was erected around 2500 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986.

Stonehenge was produced by a culture with no written language, and at great historical remove from the first cultures that did leave written records.

There is little or no direct evidence for the construction techniques used by the Stonehenge builders. However, conventional techniques using Neolithic technology have been demonstrably effective at moving and placing stones this size.

Proposed functions for the site include an astronomical observatory, and a religious site. Other theories have advanced supernatural or symbolic explanations for the construction.

More recently two major new theories have been proposed. One has suggested that Stonehenge was part of a ritual landscape and was joined to Durrington Walls by their corresponding avenues and the River Avon. The area around Durrington Walls henge was a land of the living, whilst Stonehenge was a domain of the dead. A journey along the Avon to reach Stonehenge was part of a ritual passage from life to death, to celebrate past ancestors and the recently deceased.

Others have suggested that Stonehenge was a place of healing – the equivalent of Lourdes. They argue that this accounts for the high number of burials in the area and for the evidence of trauma deformity in some of the graves. However they do concede that the site was probably multifunctional and used for ancestor worship as well.

Copyright © – Louise Fahy. The reproduction, publication, modification, transmission or exploitation of any work contained herein for any use, personal or commercial, without Louise Fahy’s prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

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