5 fantastic facts about Stonehenge

stonehenge, UNESCO
Stonehenge is a UNESCO world heritage site, and a prehistoric ring of huge standing stones within an earthworks, on the plains in Wiltshire. Credit: VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett

The summer solstice – the longest day of the year in the UK – is the perfect time to take a look at Stonehenge, a prehistoric wonder intrinsically linked to the day.

Stonehenge in Wiltshire, a monument of huge stones set in a ring is a prehistoric wonder, is one of the most famous sites in the UK and a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has long fascinated the public and archaeologists alike. Today, the ancient site receives more than a million visitors a year.

1. Stonehenge is older than all the pyramids in Egypt – more than 5,000 years old. Its construction began c3100 BC, and the site was worked on for around 1,500 years.

2. The site’s main purpose still remains a mystery but due to presence of neolithic burial mounds it’s though it was probably used originally as a burial site.

3.  Some of the stones are so huge and heavy – the stones tae up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons (22.6 metric tons) on average – it’s a mystery how they got there.

4. Stonehenge is made of two types of stone, sarsens and bluestones. Sarsens are the larger ones and come from the Marlborough Downs. The volcanic bluestones are from the Preseli Hills in Wales – over 150 miles away.

5. We do know that the site was built with a sophisticated understanding of mathematics and geometry, as it is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun.The main axis of the stones is aligned upon the solstitial axis. At midsummer, the sun rises over the horizon to the north-east, close to the Heel Stone.  These seasonal times must have been significant to the people who built Stonehenge.

The view of Stonehenge as seen from the north east, a view now found to be most important to the creators (c) English Heritage