Stonehenge is a prehistoric ritual monument, situated on Salisbury Plain in south-western England and dating from the Neolithic (late Stone Age) and Bronze Age. It is the most celebrated of the megalithic monuments in England, and the most important prehistoric structure in Europe. Although its precise purpose is unknown, it is likely to have been a tribal gathering place or religious centre connected with astronomical observations.

The function of Stonehenge has long been a matter of conjecture. It could have been used to predict the summer and winter solstices, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, and eclipses of the sun and moon. It may also have functioned as a means of predicting the positions of the sun and moon relative to the Earth, and thereby the seasons, and perhaps also as a calendar. As such it might have been the gathering place for religious ceremonies connected with the sun and moon. At Stonehenge as at other Bronze Age sites, the emphasis on the circle may also reflect the circular nature of birth and death, and the passage of the seasons.

The public are no longer admitted into the stone circle to preserve the monument from wear and tear. When you look at the panorama you are seeing Stonehenge from the centre of the circle, something you cannot do if you visit it.

Historical information from "Stonehenge," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


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