They come from a quarry in the West Woods of Wiltshire, around 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Stonehenge. The standing stones were prepared and fashioned with mortise and tenon joints before being raised as a 108-foot (33 m) diameter circle with a ring of 30 lintel stones lying on top. Each lintel stone is about 12 feet long and weighs approximately 20 tons.
The weight of the heaped up stones is estimated to be 22,500 tons. That's more than 10 Empire State Buildings stacked one on top of another!
The tallest stone at Stonehenge is the capstone that tops off the center axis stone. It stands nearly 16 feet high. The shortest stone can only be just over 5 feet tall.
Some people think that the arrangement of the stones at Stonehenge is similar to the layout of a clock face, but this idea is not supported by evidence. There are no markings or carvings on the stones to help us date them or identify their original owners. They have been buried under time-consuming processes of erosion and wind-blasting for thousands of years.
It's hard to imagine how such huge rocks could have been moved there or altered in any way. But ancient peoples did know how to transport large objects over long distances. In fact, some scholars believe that Stonehenge was part of a network of connected sites across Europe and Asia carrying out ritual ceremonies.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric structure located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, about two miles (3 kilometers) west of Amesbury. It is composed of an outer ring of vertical Sarsen standing stones, each around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, seven feet (2.1 m) wide, and weighing approximately 25 tons, topped by connecting horizontal lintel stones. The inner area contains five large sarsens and several smaller ones. There are also 30 other stone monuments inside the inner circle, which probably served as markers for significant points within the lunar cycle.
The origins and purpose of Stonehenge remain a subject of debate among archaeologists. Some believe it was a religious site while others think it was used as a burial ground or even a circus.
There are about three million stones used in Stonehenge's construction. Most of them are bluestone, but there are some sandstones and a few small pieces of shale. The largest stone in the monument is the central sarsen, which measures 3.6 meters (12 ft.) high, 2.5 meters (8.5 ft.) wide and weighs about 55 tons.
The size of these stones makes moving them to the site very difficult. So engineers have estimated how many men would be needed to move each one using ropes and pulleys. The result is quite amazing: it takes about 170 men to lift a single stone out of its hole.
The stones are said to have been set on massive wooden sledges and dragged around the ground by log rollers. For the stones, the builders dug huge trenches. Then they drew ropes to elevate them and filled the ditches with boulders to keep the stones in place. Stonehenge required a significant amount of labor to construct.
Some historians believe that Stonehenge may have been a sacrificial site because there are holes in some of the rocks that could have held candles or other objects. But most scholars believe that it was probably used for religious ceremonies.
Stonehenges main entrance is through a row of three large stones called the "outer rows". These stones are 1.5 miles away from the center of the monument. The distance between each outer stone is about 61 feet. The first stone is 53 feet tall while the last one is 52 feet tall. They are called "sitting stones" because you can sit on them.
Inside the inner circle are 12 middle stones. These stones are also called "center stones" because they are in the center of the enclosure. Some of these stones are taller than 2 stories high. The tallest one is 3 feet wide and 30 feet tall.
There are also several smaller stones scattered around the outside of the enclosure. Some historians think that these ancillary stones were used as markers for the seasons or as guides for planting crops.
Stonehenge is made up of concentric rings and semi-circles of earthen ditches and mounds, standing timbers (which have already deteriorated), and upright carved stones. Some stones stood alone, while others were supported by lintels. The largest stone in the monument is called "Ardorleis", and it is 16 feet (5 m) high and 30 feet (10 m) wide at its base.
There are three main phases to the construction of the monument: Early Bronze Age (2500-2200 B.C.), Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500 B.C.) and Late Bronze Age (1000-500 B.C.). Each phase added onto the previous one, resulting in the modern appearance of the monument.
During the Early Bronze Age, the first phase, about 40 stones are known to have existed. They were flat rocks without any indentations or carvings. This shows that even at this early stage people were creating monuments here to honor their dead.
The Middle Bronze Age saw the addition of about 80 more stones, many of which still stand today. These new stones were shaped with grooves on their sides that fit into the holes in the other stones, forming a kind of crisscross pattern. Some scholars believe that these markings may have been used as guides for casting metal tools.