Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument and its very name is wrapped in mystery, provoking people to wonder what the purpose of this structure was and who built it. Although many believe this to have been a religious site and that it was built by druids, modern scholars are reluctant to agree. The monument sees a constant influx of visitors ranging from curious tourists to modern-day druid groups.
What Is the Significance of Stonehenge?
This is a question that has been actively debated for many years. What is Stonehenge and what was its original purpose? The true purpose of the site remains unclear. Its layout seems to align with the apparent motions of the sun in our sky caused by the movement of the Earth. According to a professor of prehistory at Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Natural and Built Environment, Caroline Malone, at Stonehenge, there’s evidence of complex calendrical rituals that were likely related to rebirth, solstice, and community events. Given that there is no preserved script to explain the purpose of this monument, its true purpose remains a mystery.
Was it Truly Built by Druids?
Although many believe that the druids built Stonehenge, it’s highly unlikely that this was the case. All the archeological work that has been performed on the site so far indicates that this stunning structure was built between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago. However, the earliest records regarding druidic groups and activities date back 2,400 years. Although they may date back a bit further than that, experts doubt that they were around when Stonehenge was constructed.
The Evidence Simply Isn’t There
Caroline Malone explains that druids emerged around the first millennium, B.C. and that no actual druidic evidence has been found at Stonehenge. She adds that, according to Iron Age ritual sites, druidic groups didn’t appear to worship the solstice and the sun. A professor of later British prehistory at University College London, Mike Parker Pearson wrote in an article in the journal Archaeology International in 2013, that classical writers described druidic individuals and groups worshiping wooded groves with no mention of stone monuments or Stonehenge itself.
Why Modern Druidism Identifies With Stonehenge
Even without evidence of ancient druidic groups being linked to Stonehenge, modern-day druids express a connection to this monument and visit it for every solstice. The revival movement of druidism occurred around 300 years ago while ancient practitioners disappeared around 1,200 years ago. It’s possible that modern druidism may not follow the same practices as the old one did. According to a history professor, Ronald Hutton, in the 18th century, it was realized that the monument was built by the prehistoric British and it was assumed that a druidic group was responsible.