November 2002 A Conscious Evolution Newsletter
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Volume 1, Number 3

Opinions presented in Metamorphosis are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others associated with the newsletter.


Stonehenge, Part 3

By Tinkerbell

The magnificent standing stones for which Stonehenge is best known, were brought to the site in the third and final phase of construction of the Henge. The first two phases, which archeological analysis dates to 3050-2600 B.C., created the initial ditches, barrows (or mounds), Aubrey holes and other holes used to hold wooden beams. The final phase, the placement of huge stones is believed to have been completed around 1600 B.C. The English Heritage organization owns the ancient site, near Amesbury in southern England, and works to maintain it and ensure its preservation for the nation as well as for visitors from all over the globe.

Although development has been classified into three stages, many hundreds of years elapsed between the start and the completion of each phase, and this is especially true of the final stage. The standing stones arrived over the course of approximately 1,000 years.

The construction resources of the people living in that era would have been extremely limited. The difficulty of moving many tons of stone several hundred miles without roads, vehicles or man-made waterways is simply staggering. This final stage of development actually involved two separate sets of stones being hauled by hand across the land and sea, no minor feat.

PHASE THREE, 2600-1600 B.C.
- THE STONES

The first set of stones to arrive at Stonehenge were Bluestones, which are thought to come from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, some 240 miles (385 km.) away. The photo shows how small and smooth these Bluestones were in comparison to later stones, however each of these stones weighs approximately 4 tons each.

It is likely that rafts were used to transport the rock via the shoreline and then via rivers. Then, they were likely hauled over land employing some form of log-rolling method. The most likely route for transportation would have had six miles of land (10 km.) over which each and every Bluestone would have had to be moved manually in this fashion.

It is thought that the 60 Bluestones (which are bluish in colour and slightly warm to the touch) were at first embedded into the land in a double crescent arrangement, in the middle of the circle created by the outer rim ditches. This formation was later changed into a horseshoe when the larger Sarsen Stones arrived. The Bluestone phase is estimated to have lasted until approximately 2400 B.C.

The Sarsen Stones are what springs to mind when one thinks of Stonehenge, the large formation reminiscent of croquet pins. Sarsen Stones are considerably larger than Bluestones; each Sarsen weighs about 25 tons in comparison to the “light-weight” 4 ton Bluestones. The Sarsen Stones probably came from Marlborough Downs, some 25 miles (40 km.) away, so considerably nearer than the site of the Bluestones’ source.

The construction took the form of an outer circle of 30 upright standing stones with lintels of Sarsen Stone on top forming a continuous circle. All of these lintels were shaped into curves by pounding the stones. Five massive Trilithons were set in a horseshoe shape in the centre of the outer circle of stones, and the Bluestones were reset in the centre of the Trilithons. 

The Avenue entrance into Stonehenge has a Heel Stone a short way from the main entry, and it is thought to have once had three Portal Stones at the actual entrance of the circle, but only the fallen Slaughter Stone remains today. Four Station Stones mark the alignment to the lunar cycles and vernal equinox. 

These four Station Stones, along with the Heel Stone, may predate the circles and Trilithons, as they are not dressed in the same way, but are rough and un-tooled. It is possible that the need to understand lunar and solar movements was to assist with farming at the time, acting as an indicator of when to harvest.

Finally, there is the Altar Stone, which is now partially buried in the middle of the stone circle under a fallen lintel. It is thought to have once stood upright like the other stones. The name Altar Stone is misleading, as this stone probably was used like the arm of a sundial. When the midsummer (and midwinter) Sun is rising, it aligns perfectly with this stone. According to English Heritage Society, there is no scientific evidence that there ever were any bloodletting sacrifices conducted within the circle.

Ceremonies conducted in the completed monument must have been regal affairs. One can picture processions up the Avenue, past the Heel Stone, and through the Slaughter Stone’s gate-like entrance into this magnificent structure. Imagine proceeding next under the archway lintels, then past the Bluestones to the centre of the circle, to behold the Altar Stone surrounded by the horseshoe of Bluestones and giant Trilithons. All this would be by torchlight, leaving participants waiting patiently for the first rays of dawn to edge up and illuminate the Altar - a spectacular sight, and the culmination of 1,500 years of construction. 

In current times many of the stones are missing or have fallen. Some of the missing stones may have been used in the construction of later communities, given the lack of suitable building material locally.

The English Heritage Society, who own the Stonehenge and some of the land around the site, has conducted some preservation work on the stones and has fenced the area off to limit further deterioration by the hoards of tourists who visit each year. It’s a precious monument to the centuries of people who worked to complete this spectacular construction.