Many may wonder why the Stone Age people built so many henges. Why on Earth did they bother? The short answer is that we don’t know. At least, this is the answer of a historian and author of the book Stonehenge – Rosemary Hill.
Before we dive into the topic, it’s important to note that technically speaking, Stonehenge is not even a henge. The word “henge” is a relatively new term. It was first defined by British archaeologist Thomas Kendrick in 1932 to mean a circular bank with a ditch inside it and one or more entrances through the bank.
Fun Fact About Stonehenge
Even ignoring the reverse order of bank and ditch, Stonehenge still wouldn’t have been a henge because henges were usually made from wood. This makes sense because wood is everywhere, and it is much easier to transport and carve, even if it is not as durable as stone. It wasn’t until the 20th century that archaeologists realized that Britain once boasted a bounty of wood henges that vanished from sight.
Why Was It Built?
Research has shown strong evidence that Stonehenge was a burial site, it’s oriented toward the sunset during the winter solstice. So, you think you can say it’s to do with the dead and the solstices. It’s not unreasonable to think of it as a ritual site, and there is no real evidence of people living or eating there.
The uncertainty of why Stonehenge was built feels like an anticlimactic answer to the questions why Stone Age Europeans saw fit to build so many circular monuments, but not knowing something is sort of magical.