An enigma of prehistoric civil engineering and a dramatic silhouette on the landscape of Salisbury Plain, the megalithic monuments at Stonehenge are a constant reminder of the incredible resourcefulness of ancient civilisations. Construction of Stonehenge was divided into three stages. The first, between 3000 and 2500 BC, involved the creation of an ordinary henge monument (a circular enclosure bounded by banks and a ditch) that was used for ceremonies and burials.
The second stage saw the arrival of Welsh bluestones from the Preseli mountains. In around 2150 BC, people began transporting these four-ton stones to Wiltshire using a combination of rollers and sledges on land, and rafts across the sea and rivers. At the end of the 386-kilometer journey the stones were arranged as a double circle in the centre of the Stonehenge site. These bluestones provided a sacred focus, which Stonehenge experts professors Timothy Darvill and Geoff Wainwright suggest was due to the stones’ perceived magic healing powers.
Once the stones were set up, the site attracted more interest with visitors and pilgrims from all over northern Europe. In around 2000 BC, the third phase of construction began when Sarsen stones were transported from a site 25 miles from the monument. These immense stones – the heaviest of which weighed 50 tons – were positioned upright in an outer circle with horizontal lintels running between each vertical.