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Neolithic and Bronze Age monument located near Amesbury in the English county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Salisbury. It is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones, known as megaliths. There is some debate about the age of the stone circle, but most archaeologists think that it was mainly constructed between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. The older circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute perhaps 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. It is also a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. The monument itself is owned and managed by English Heritage whilst the surrounding downland is owned by the National Trust.

Christopher Chippendale's Stonehenge Complete gives the derivation of Stonehenge as being from the Old English words "stān" meaning "stone", and either "hencg" meaning "hinge" (because the stone lintels hinge on the upright stones) or "hen©en" meaning "gallows" or "instrument of torture". Medieval gallows consisted of two uprights with a lintel joining them rather than the inverted L-shape more familiar today.

The "henge" portion has given its name to a class of monuments known as henges. Archaeologists define henges as earthworks consisting of a circular banked enclosure with an internal ditch. As often happens in archaeological terminology, this is a holdover from antiquarian usage, and Stonehenge cannot in fact be truly classified as a henge site as its bank is inside its ditch. Despite being contemporary with true Neolithic henges and stone circles, Stonehenge is in many ways atypical. For example, its extant trilithons make Stonehenge unique. Stonehenge is only distantly related to the other stone circles in the British Isles, such as the Ring of Brodgar.

The Stonehenge complex was built in several construction phases spanning 2,000 years, although there is evidence for activity both before and afterwards on the site. Archaeologists have found three large Mesolithic postholes which date to around 8000 BC nearby, beneath the modern tourist car-park, and which may have had ritual significance, although there is no suggestion they are connected with the later monument. During the earlier Neolithic, a cursus monument was built 600m north of the site as the first farmers began to exploit the area. Later prehistoric pottery, Roman coins and the burial of a decapitated Saxon man have been excavated from Stonehenge, the last dated to the 7th century AD. Dating and understanding the various phases of activity at Stonehenge is not a simple task; it is complicated by poorly-kept early excavation records, surprisingly few accurate scientific dates and the disturbance of the natural chalk by periglacial effects and animal burrowing. The modern phasing most generally agreed by archaeologists is detailed below. Features mentioned in the text are numbered and shown on the plan, right, which illustrates the site as of AD 2004. The plan omits the trilithon lintels for clarity. Holes that no longer, or never, contained stones are shown as open circles and stones visible today are shown coloured.

The first monument consisted of a circular bank and ditch enclosure (7 and 8) measuring around 115 m (320 feet) in diameter with a large entrance to the north east and a smaller one to the south (14). The builders placed bones of deer and oxen in the bottom of the ditch. These bones were considerably older than the antler picks used to dig the ditch and had been well looked-after for some time prior to burial. The ditch itself was continuous but had been dug in sections like the earlier causewayed enclosures and the chalk spoil piled up to form the bank. This first stage is dated to around 3100 BC after which the ditch began to silt up naturally. Within the outer edge of the enclosed area was dug a circle of 56 pits each around 1m in diameter (13), known as Aubrey holes after John Aubrey, the seventeenth century antiquarian who was thought to have first identified them. The pits may have contained standing timbers although there is no excavated evidence of them. A small outer bank beyond the ditch could also date to this period (9).

Evidence of the second phase is no longer visible. It appears from the number of postholes dating to this period that some form of timber structure was built within the enclosure during the early 3rd millennium BC. Further standing timbers were placed at the northeast entrance and a parallel alignment of posts ran inwards from the southern entrance. The postholes are smaller than the Aubrey Holes, being only around 0.4m in diameter and are much less regularly spaced. The bank was purposely reduced in height and the ditch continued to silt up. At least twenty-five of the Aubrey Holes are known to have contained later, intrusive, cremation burials dating to the two centuries after the monument's inception. It seems that whatever the holes' initial function, it changed to become a funerary one during Phase 2. Thirty further cremations were placed in the enclosure's ditch and at other points within the monument, mostly in the eastern half. Stonehenge is therefore interpreted as functioning as an enclosed cremation cemetery at this time, the earliest known cremation cemetery in the British Isles. Fragments of unburnt human bone have also been found in the ditch fill. Late Neolithic grooved ware pottery has been found in connection with the features from this phase providing dating evidence.

Archaeological excavation has indicated that around 2600 BC, timber was abandoned in favour of stone and two concentric crescents of holes (called the Q and R Holes) were dug in the centre of the site. Again, there is little firm dating evidence for this phase. The holes held 80 standing bluestones (shown blue on the plan) brought from the Preseli Hills, 250 km away in modern day Pembrokeshire in Wales. The stones, which weighed about four tons, consisted mostly of spotted dolerite but included examples of rhyolite, tuff and volcanic and calcareous ash. Each measures around 2m in height, between 1m and 1.5m wide and around 0.8m thick. What was to become known as the Altar Stone (1), a six-ton specimen of green micaceous sandstone twice the height of the bluestones, was also brought from the Welsh coast near Preseli and may have stood as a single large monolith.

The north eastern entrance was also widened at this time with the result that it precisely matched the direction of the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset of the period. This phase of the monument was abandoned unfinished however, the bluestones were apparently removed and the Q and R holes purposefully backfilled. Even so, the monument appears to have eclipsed the site at Avebury in importance towards the end of this phase and the Amesbury Archer, found in 2002 three miles (5 km) to the south, would have seen the site in this state.

The Heel Stone (5) may also have been erected outside the north eastern entrance during this period although it cannot be securely dated and may have been installed at any time in phase 3. At first, a second stone, now no longer visible, joined it. Two, or possibly three, large portal stones were set up just inside the northeastern entrance of which only one, the fallen Slaughter Stone (4), 16 ft (4.9 m) long, now remains. Other features loosely dated to phase 3 include the four Station Stones (6), two of which stood atop mounds (2 and 3). The mounds are known as 'barrows' although they do not contain burials. The Avenue, (10), a parallel pair of ditches and banks leading 3 km to the River Avon was also added. Ditches were later dug around the Station Stones and the Heel Stone, which was by then reduced to a single monolith.

The next major phase of activity at the tail end of the 3rd millennium BC saw 30 enormous Sarsen stones (shown grey on the plan) brought from a quarry around 24 miles (40 km) north to the site on the Marlborough Downs. The stones were dressed and fashioned with mortise and tenon joints before 30 were erected as a 33 m (108 ft) diameter circle of standing stones with a 'lintel' of 30 stones resting on top. The lintels themselves were joined to one another using another woodworking method, the tongue in groove joint . Each stone weighed around 25 tons and had clearly been worked with the final effect in mind. The orthostats widen slightly towards the top in order that their perspective remains constant as they rise up from the ground whilst the lintel stones curve slightly to continue the circular appearance of the earlier monument. The sides of the stones that face inwards are more finely worked than the sides that face outwards. A total of 74 stones would have been needed to complete the circle and unless some of the sarsens were removed from the site, it would seem that the ring was left incomplete.

Within this circle stood five trilithons of dressed sarsen stone arranged in a horseshoe shape. These huge stones, ten uprights and five lintels, weigh up to 50 tons each and were again linked using complex jointings. The images of a 'dagger' and 14 'axe-heads' have been recorded carved on one of the sarsens, known as stone 53. Further axe-head carvings have been seen on the outer faces of stones known as numbers 3, 4, and 5. They are difficult to date but are morphologically similar to later Bronze Age weapons. The pair of trilithons in north east are smallest, measuring around 6m (20 feet) in height and the largest is the trilithon in the south west of the horseshoe is almost 7.5m (24 feet) tall.

This ambitious phase is radiocarbon dated to between 2440 and 2100 BC.

Later in the Bronze Age, the bluestones appear to have been re-erected for the first time although the precise details of this period are still unclear. They were placed within the outer sarsen circle and at this time may have been trimmed in some way. A few have timber working-style cuts in them like the sarsens themselves, suggesting they may have been linked with lintels and part of a larger structure during this phase.

This phase saw further rearrangement of the bluestones as they were placed in a circle between the two settings of sarsens and in an oval in the very centre. Some archaeologists argue that some of the bluestones in this period were part of a second group brought from Wales. All the stones were well-spaced uprights without any linking lintels inferred in Stonehenge 3iii. The Altar Stone may have been moved within the oval and stood vertically. Although this would seem the most impressive phase of work, Stonehenge 3iv was rather shabbily built compared to its immediate predecessors, the newly re-installed bluestones were not at all well founded and began to fall over. However, only minor changes were made after this phase. Stonehenge 3iv dates from 2280 to 1930 BC.

Soon afterwards, the north eastern section of the Phase 3iv Bluestone circle was removed, creating a horseshoe-shaped setting termed the Bluestone Horseshoe. This mirrored the shape of the central sarsen Trilithons and dates from 2270 to 1930 BC. This phase is contemporary with the famous Seahenge site in Norfolk.

Two further rings of pits were dug outside the outermost sarsen circle, called the Y and Z Holes (11 and 12). The Z holes were about 2m outside the outermost sarsen circle and the Y holes about 5m further out. These were each of thirty pits and each seems to match with one of the uprights in the outer sarsen circle. They were never filled with stones however and were permitted to silt up over the next few centuries; their upper fills contain Iron Age and Roman material. Monument building at Stonehenge appears to have been abandoned around 1600 BC.

Many early historians were influenced by supernatural folktales in their explanations. Some legends held that Merlin the wizard had a giant build the structure for him or that he had magically transported it from Mount Killaraus in Ireland, while others held the Devil responsible. Henry of Huntingdon was the first to write of the monument around 1130 soon followed by Geoffrey of Monmouth who was the first to record fanciful associations with King Arthur which led the monument to be incorporated into the wider cycle of European medieval romance.

In 1615, Inigo Jones argued that Stonehenge was a Roman temple, dedicated to 'Cnelus', a pagan god, and built following the Tuscan order. Later commentators maintained that the Danes erected it. Indeed, up until the late nineteenth century, the site was commonly attributed to the Saxons or other relatively recent societies.

The first academic effort to survey and understand the monument was made around 1740 by William Stukeley. As was his wont, Stukeley incorrectly attributed the site to the Druids. He contributed measured drawings of the site, which permitted greater analysis of its form and significance. From this work he was able to demonstrate an astronomical or calendrical role in the stones' placement.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, John Lubbock was able to attribute the site to the Bronze Age based on the bronze objects found in the nearby barrows.

Archaeoastronomy and Stonehenge

For further information, see Archaeoastronomy and Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is aligned north east — south west, and it has been suggested that particular significance was placed by its builders on the solstice and equinox points, so for example on a midsummer's morning, the sun rose close to the Heel Stone, and the sun's first rays went directly into the centre of the monument between the horseshoe arrangement. It is unlikely that such an alignment can have been merely accidental.

A huge debate was triggered by the 1963 publication of Stonehenge Decoded, by British born astronomer Gerald Hawkins, who claimed to see a large number of alignments, both lunar and solar, and argued that Stonehenge could have been used to predict eclipses. Hawkins' book received wide publicity, partly because he used a computer in his calculations, then a rarity. Archaeologists were suspicious in the face of further contributions to the debate coming from British astronomer C. A. Newham and Sir Fred Hoyle, the famous Cambridge Cosmologist, as well as by Alexander Thom, a retired professor of engineering, who had been studying stone circles for more than 20 years. Their theories have faced criticism in recent decades from Richard Atkinson and others who have suggested impracticalities in the 'Stone Age calculator' interpretative approach.

Today, the consensus is that some of the astronomical case, although not all, was overstated. Even so, since the sun rises in different directions in different geographical latitudes, for the alignment to be correct, it must have been calculated precisely for Stonehenge's latitude of 51° 11'. This alignment, therefore, must have been fundamental to the design and placement of at least some of Stonehenge's phases. The recent discovery of a neighbour to the Heel Stone has challenged the interpretation of it as a midsummer sunrise marker and it may have instead been one side of a 'solar corridor' used to frame the sunrise. Sun worship is certainly not an uncommon phenomenon amongst Neolithic peoples given their reliance on it for crop fertility.

Despite as many as 20,000 people visiting Stonehenge during the 2005 summer solstice, growing evidence indicates that ancestors did not visit at all in the summer, but rather during the winter solstice. The only megalithic monument in the British Isles to contain a clear, compelling solar alignment is Newgrange which famously faces the winter solstice sunrise. The most recent such evidence includes bones and teeth from pigs that were slaughtered at nearby Durrington Walls, their age at death indicating that they were slaughtered either in December or January every year. Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield has said "We have no evidence that anyone was in the landscape in summer."

The bluestones

Roger Mercer has observed that the bluestones are incongruously finely worked and has suggested that they were transferred to Salisbury Plain from an as yet unlocated earlier monument in Pembrokeshire, Wales. If Mercer's theory is correct then the bluestones may have been transplanted to cement an alliance or display superiority over a conquered enemy although this can only be speculation. Oval shaped settings of bluestones similar to those at Stonehenge 3iv are also known at the sites of Bedd Arthur in the Preseli Hills and at Skomer Island off the southwest coast of Pembrokeshire. Some archaeologists have suggested that the igneous bluestones and sedimentary sarsens had some symbolism, of a union between two cultures from different landscapes and therefore from different backgrounds.

Recent analysis of contemporary burials found nearby known as the Boscombe Bowmen, has indicated that at least some of the individuals associated with Stonehenge 3 did indeed come from modern day Wales. Petrological analysis of the stones themselves has verified that they could only have come from the Preseli Hills and it is tempting to connect the two.

The main source of the bluestones is now identified with the dolerite outcrops at Carn Menyn although work led by Olwen Williams-Thorpe of the Open University has shown that further bluestone sources over a wider area of Preseli were also exploited.

Aubrey Burl contends that the bluestones were not transported by human agency at all and were instead brought by glaciers at least part of the way from Wales during the Pleistocene. No geological evidence has been found for any glacial activity between Preseli and Salisbury Plain however and no further specimens of the unusual dolerite stone have been found in the vicinity.

Many archaeologists believe Stonehenge was an attempt to render in permanent stone the more common timber structures that dotted Salisbury Plain at the time, such as those that stood at Durrington Walls. Modern anthropological evidence has been used by Mike Parker Pearson and the Madagascan archaeologist Ramilisonina to suggest that timber was associated with the living and stone with the ancestral dead. They have argued that Stonehenge was the terminus of a long, ritualised funerary procession, which began in the east at sunrise at Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, moved down the Avon and then along the Avenue reaching Stonehenge in the west at sunset. The journey from wood to stone via water was a symbolic journey from life to death. There is no satisfactory evidence to suggest that Stonehenge's astronomical alignments were anything more than symbolic and current interpretations favour a ritual role for the monument that takes into account its numerous burials and its presence within a wider landscape of sacred sites.

Much speculation has surrounded the engineering feats required to build Stonehenge. Assuming the bluestones were brought from Wales by hand, and not transported by glaciers as Aubrey Burl has claimed, various methods of moving them relying only on timber and rope have been suggested. In a 2001 exercise in experimental archaeology, an attempt was made to transport a large stone along a land and sea route from Wales to Stonehenge. Volunteers pulled it on a wooden sledge over land, but once transferred to a replica prehistoric boat, the stone sank in rough seas of the Bristol Channel.

As far as positioning the stones, it has been suggested that timber A frames were erected to raise the stones, and that teams of people then hauled them upright using ropes. The topmost stones may have been raised up incrementally on timber platforms and slid into place or pushed up ramps. The carpentry-type joints used on the stones imply a people well skilled in woodworking. They could easily have had the knowledge to erect the monument using such methods.

Alexander Thom was of the opinion that the site was laid out with the necessary precision using his megalithic yard.

The engraved weapons on the sarsens are unique in megalithic art in the British Isles, where more abstract designs were favoured. Similarly, the horseshoe arrangements of stones are unusual in a culture that otherwise arranged stones in circles. The axe motif is, however, common to the peoples of Brittany at the time, and it has been suggested at least two stages of Stonehenge were built under continental influence. This would go some way towards explaining the monument's atypical design, but overall, Stonehenge is still inexplicably unusual in the context of any prehistoric European culture.

Estimates of the manpower needed to build Stonehenge put the total effort involved at millions of hours of work. Stonehenge 1 probably needed around 11,000 hours (or 458.3 days) work, Stonehenge 2 around 360,000 (15,000 days or 41 years) and the various parts of Stonehenge 3 may have involved up to 1.75 million hours (72916.6 days or 199.6 years) work. The working of the stones is estimated to have required around 20 million hours (833333.3 days or 2281.5 years) work using the primitive tools available at the time. Certainly, the will to produce such a site must have been strong, and it is considered that advanced social organisation would have been necessary to build and maintain it.

Alternative views

Stonehenge's fame comes not only from its archaeological significance or potential early astronomical role but also in its less tangible effect on visitors, what Christopher Chippindale describes as "the physical sensation of the place", something that transcends the rational, scientific view of the monument. This manifests itself in the spiritual role of the site for many different groups and a belief that no single scientific explanation can do justice to it as a symbol of the great achievement of ancient people and as a symbol of something that continues to confound mainstream archaeology. Post-processualist archaeologists might consider that treating Stonehenge as a computer or observatory is to apply modern concepts from our own technology-driven era back into the past. Even the role of indigenous peoples in archaeology, rarely applied in Western Europe, has created a new function for the site as a symbol of Welsh nationalism.

Some have theorised that it represents the female sexual organs (Article from The Observer) or have identified a phallic shape in the Heel Stone. UFO sightings in the area, perhaps connected with the military installations around Warminster have led to ideas over it being an alien landing site. Alfred Watkins found three ley lines running through the site and others have employed numerology dowsing or geomancy to reach diverse conclusions regarding the site's power and purpose. New Age and neo-pagan beliefs might see Stonehenge as a sacred place of worship which can conflict with its more mainstream role as an archaeological site, tourist attraction, or marketing tool.

The significance of the 'ownership' of Stonehenge in terms of the differing meanings and interpretations held by the many orthodox and unorthodox stakeholders in the site has been increasingly apparent in recent decades.

The first recorded excavations at Stonehenge were carried out by William Cunnington and Richard Colt Hoare. In 1798, Cunnington investigated the pit beneath a recently fallen trilithon and in 1810, both men dug beneath the fallen Slaughter Stone and concluded that it had once stood up. They may have also excavated one of the Aubrey Holes beneath it. In 1839, one Captain Beamish dug around the Altar Stone and a little later Charles Darwin was granted permission by the Antrobus family who owned Stonehenge to hold a small excavation to test his theories about earthworm activity burying ancient structures. On New Year's Eve 1900, another trilithon fell over and Sir Edmund Antrobus undertook to right it and set it in concrete. Following public pressure and a letter to The Times by William Flinders Petrie, he agreed to re-erect the stones under archaeological supervision so that records could be made of the below ground archaeology. Antrobus appointed a mining engineer William Gowland to manage the job who despite having no previous archaeological experience produced some of the finest, most detailed excavation records ever made at the monument. Gowland established that antler picks had been used to dig the stone holes and that the stones themselves had been worked to shape on site.

The largest excavation at Stonehenge was undertaken by Colonel William Hawley and his assistant Robert Newall after the site had come into state hands. Stonehenge and 30 acres of land had been purchased by Mr. Cecil Chubb for £6,600 on September 21, 1915 — he then donated the purchase to the British state three years later. Their work began in 1919 following the transfer of land, funded by the Office of Works, and continued until 1926. The two men excavated portions of most of the features at Stonehenge and were the first to establish that it was a multi-phase site.

In 1950 the Society of Antiquaries commissioned Richard Atkinson, Stuart Piggott and Marcus Stone to carry out further excavations. They recovered many cremations and developed the phasing that still dominates much of what is written about Stonehenge.

In 1979 and 1980 Mike Pitts led two smaller investigations as part of service trenching, close by the heelstone, finding the evidence for its neighbour. More recent excavations have been held to mitigate the effects of electrical cables, sewage pipes, and a footpath through the site.

Friar's Heel:

The Heel Stone was once known as "Friar's Heel." A folk tale, which cannot be dated earlier than the seventeenth century, relates the origin of the name of this stone:

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!," whereupon the Devil threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. The stone stuck in the ground and is still there.

Some claim "Friar's Heel" is a corruption of "Freya's He-ol" or "Freya Sul", from the Germanic goddess Freya and (allegedly) the Welsh words for "way" and "sun day" respectively.

Arthurian legend:

Stonehenge is also associated with Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth said that Merlin the wizard directed its removal from Ireland, where it had been constructed on Mount Killaraus by Giants, who brought the stones from Africa. After it had been rebuilt near Amesbury, Geoffrey further narrates how first Ambrosius Aurelianus, then Uther Pendragon, and finally Constantine III, were buried inside the ring of stones. In many places in his Historia Regum Britanniae Geoffrey mixes British legend and his own imagination; it is intriguing that he connects Ambrosius Aurelianus with this prehistoric monument, seeing how there is place-name evidence to connect Ambrosius with nearby Amesbury.

By the beginning of the 20th century many of the bluestones were leaning precariously, probably due to the increase in curious visitors clambering on them during the nineteenth century. Additionally two of the trilithons had fallen over during the modern era. Three phases of conservation work were undertaken which righted unstable or fallen stones and carefully replaced them in their original positions using information from antiquarian drawings. If nothing else, this means that Stonehenge is not quite as timeless as its tourist publicity would suggest and that as with most historic monuments, conservation work has been undertaken.

Stonehenge is a place of pilgrimage for neo-druids and those following pagan or neo-pagan beliefs. The midsummer sunrise began attracting modern visitors in 1870s, with the first record of recreated Druidic practices dating to 1905 when the Ancient Order of Druids enacted a ceremony. Later the sun-worshipping Church of the Universal Bond adopted the site for their neo-Druidic rituals from 1912 until 1932 when their plans to scatter the ashes of cremated former members at the site were refused. Despite efforts by archaeologists to stress the differences between the Iron Age Druidic religion (the Celts first came to Britain about 500 BC), the much older monument (Stonehenge construction ended about 1600 BC), and modern Druidry, Stonehenge became increasingly associated with abstruse rituals practised by white-robed wizards.

After the Second World War the Universal Bond was permitted to re-commence its ceremonies although archaeologists such as Glyn Daniel and Stuart Piggott continued to campaign against what they saw as bogus Druidry throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

The earlier rituals were augmented by the Stonehenge free festival, held between 1972 and 1984, and loosely organised by the Politantric Circle. However, in 1985 the site was closed to festivalgoers by English Heritage and the National Trust by which time the number of midsummer visitors had risen from 500 to 30,000. A consequence of the end of the festival was the violent confrontation between the police and new age travellers that became known as the Battle of the Beanfield when police blockaded a convoy of travellers to prevent them from approaching Stonehenge. There was then no midsummer access for almost fifteen years until limited opening was negotiated in 2000.

In more recent years, the setting of the monument has been affected by the proximity of the A303 road between Amesbury and Winterbourne Stoke, and the A344. Projects for moving the road or placing it in a tunnel under the site have been proposed in the past, but these have often been opposed, as they are either too expensive or too destructive. In early 2003 the Department for Transport announced that the A303 would be upgraded, including the construction of the Stonehenge road tunnel. The plans are still controversial and the government has not yet finalised the plans.

Also announced has been a new heritage centre, which was intended to be open in 2006. Current provision for visitors has often been criticised; in 1993 Stonehenge's presentation was condemned by the Public Accounts Committee of the British House of Commons as 'a national disgrace'. Even so, the plans for the new centre have aroused significant controversy especially from nearby landowners and residents. English Heritage proposes a new purpose-built facility 3km from the stones at Countess Road in Amesbury, on the edge of the World Heritage Site boundary. Visitors would be ferried to and from drop off points near the monument by land trains. They would then approach the stones themselves on foot for the final kilometre.

Locals in Amesbury have complained that the scheme would shift traffic congestion from Stonehenge to their own village. They have also suggested that the necessary time that the public would now have to spend travelling to and from Stonehenge would likely dissuade many visitors, especially American and Japanese tourists on whistle-stop tours of England, to visit at all.

By 2008, the new road schemes were to have been completed and the old roads closed. Costs for the new road and visitor facilities were estimated at £270m by English Heritage. In July 2005 however the plans were thrown into uncertainty following refusal of planning permission for the visitors' centre by Salisbury District Council whilst the British government placed the rising costs of the road scheme under review. Remediation of unsuitable geology along the road route the site may add a further £200m to the costs.

In 2003 a team from Wessex Archaeology and Archaeoptics used laser scanning technologies to analyse and record the surfaces of the megaliths at Stonehenge which contain prehistoric and post-medieval carvings. This was the first time laser scanning had been used at Stonehenge.

The Bronze Age carvings of a dagger and an axehead were first discovered by archaeologist Richard Atkinson in 1953 on stone number 53, one of the imposing sarsen trilithons. A contemporary survey in 1956 by Robert Newell revealed that the total number of axes on this stone totalled 14, all on the same face of the stone, looking inwards to the centre of the stone circle. Typologically, the axes have a Middle Bronze Age date.

The surface of stone 53 containing Bronze Age carvings was laser scanned at a resolution of 0.5mm, resulting in hundreds of thousands of individual 3D measurements known as a point cloud. This data was then processed into a meshed 3D solid model for analysis using custom software written by Archaeoptics called Demon3D.

The team pioneered some visualisation techniques to enhance the outlines of the known carvings. During this process, the faint outline of two previously unknown axes was spotted in an animation, separate from the carvings recorded by Newell. Subsequent enhancement of the data confirmed that the shapes were of flanged axes, similar in shape to those which are clearly visible, but either badly eroded, or were originally carved much shallower than their counterparts. The larger of the two carvings differs slightly from the other axes in that it has two 'lugs' along its shaft, and others have interpreted that it could represent either an axe, a mushroom, or a ram's skull.

The results of these investigations were published in the November 2003 edition of British Archaeology, and the project website can be visited at http://www.stonehengelaserscan.org/ where animations and interpretations of the data may be viewed.

Replicas and derivative names

Stonehenge's fame has led to numerous efforts to recreate it, using a variety of different materials, around the world. Some have been carefully built as astronomically-aligned models whilst others have been examples of artistic expression or tourist attractions.

There is a full-size replica of Stonehenge as it would have been before decay at Maryhill in Washington State, built by Sam Hill as a war memorial. It is even aligned to the midsummer sunrise, but to the true position of the sun at the virtual horizon, rather than the apparent position of the sun at the actual landscape horizon. Stonehenge Aotearoa in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand is a modern adaption aligned with the astronomy seen from the Antipodes, it was built by the Phoenix Astronomical Society from wood and sprayed concrete. The University of Missouri at Rolla has a half-scale replica located on campus, UMR Stonehenge is built from solid granite.

Carhenge was constructed from vintage American cars near Alliance, Nebraska by the artist Jim Reynolds in 1987. A full-size Strawhenge was assembled in Kemnath in Bavaria in 2003 from 350 bales of straw and used as a music venue. Another replica, called Stonehenge II, in Texas is constructed from an adobe-like material.

Tankhenge existed in the border zone of Berlin in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Wall. Tankhenge was constructed from three ex-Soviet armoured personnel carriers.

A full-size Stonehenge made out of foam — and inevitably called Foamhenge — stands near Natural Bridge, Virginia [2] whilst a polystyrene version was built by British television station Channel 5 in 2005 as the centrepiece for a programme on the original monument.

The rock band Black Sabbath featured a Stonehenge stage set for the 1983-1984 Born Again tour that ended up being too large to fit in most venues. When bassist Geezer Butler was initially asked by the stage designer how he visualised the Stonehenge set, Butler responded, "Life size, of course." This was ridiculed in the movie This is Spinal Tap, when the band orders a Stonehenge set but it arrives in miniature due to a confusion between feet and inches.

Aside from modern replicas, several other archaeological sites have had Stonehenge's name partially or fully incorporated into their own names. America's Stonehenge is an unusual and controversial site in New Hampshire. A henge near Stonehenge containing concentric rings of postholes for standing timbers, discovered in 1922, was named Woodhenge by its excavators because of similarities with Stonehenge. The timber Seahenge in Norfolk was named as such by journalists writing about its discovery in 1998.

In November 2004, a 7 m diameter circle of postholes was found in Russia and publicised as the Russian Stonehenge.

In 1995, Graeme Caims of Hamilton, New Zealand, built a replica of Stonehenge out of 41 refrigerators.










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Вече 17 години "Форум Наука" е онлайн и поддържа научни, исторически и любопитни дискусии с учени, експерти, любители, учители и ученици.

За своята близо двайсет годишна история "Форум Наука" се утвърди като мост между тези, които знаят и тези, които искат да знаят. Всеки ден тук влизат хиляди, които търсят своя отговор.  Форумът е богат да информация и безкрайни дискусии по различни въпроси.

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