Stonehenge is located near Amesbury in Wiltshire. It is the most known and famous Neolithic site in the world, attracting thousands of people a year. Stonehenge sits in one of the densest areas of Neolithic and Bronze age sites in England. The site is looked after by English Heritage who charge a fee to access the site but do not allow close contact with the stones. The land around stonehenge is owned by the National Trust although Stonehenge is owned by the Crown.
Stonehenge is a complex form of earthworks and stone circles which have been modified through out the ages. Several hundred burial mounds surround the site. The age of the site is hotly contested between archaeologists, but it is generally believed that the circular earthen bank was built around 3100Bc while the first stones were put in place by about 2500Bc. There have been many building phases to the site, with three distinct periods of change.
It is believed the last major construction at stonehenge was around 1600Bc. Many artifacts have been found on the site, early Neolithic to Ironage items, Roman coins and mediaeval remains. The site has been known to scholars during the Middle Ages and has been studied till present day.
During the 1920's the nation stepped in to save Stonehenge from being swamped by buildings and roads. In 1928 the land around the monument was bought and given to National Trust which has saved the site, preserving it for the future. The buildings were removed and the land returned to agriculture. More recently the land has been part of a grassland reversion scheme, returning the surrounding fields to native chalk grassland.
Notes and Legends
The Heel Stone was once known as Friar's Heel, as the Devil bought the stones from a woman in Ireland, wrapped them up, and brought them to Salisbury plain. One of the stones fell into the Avon, the rest were carried to the plain. The Devil then cried out, "No-one will ever find out how these stones came here!" A friar replied, "That’s what you think!", so the Devil threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. It most likely just means that the stone heels, or leans.
Legend claims that a giant helped Merlin build Stonehenge. Merlin directed the removal of stonehenge from Ireland, where it had been constructed on Mount Killaraus by Giants, who brought the stones from Africa. Uther Pendragon was buried inside the ring of stones.