It seems that before the Stonehenge we see today was built, it comprised of a circle of many wooden posts and, if I remember rightly, each of these contained the body of a person of high status. It seems as though it was a burial place of important people of Ancient Britain, a bit like Westminster Abbey is today in Modern Britain.
Then, at around 3000 or so BC, the Stonehenge we recognise today started to be built. Around three miles from Stonehenge archaeologists have discovered the remains of huge feasts. The discarded bones of pigs and other animals that were eaten by people have been found. Pigs are born in spring, so clever archaeologists have looked at the age of these pig bones and found that they were killed and eaten at winter. They also discovered from studying the chemical composition of the human skeletons found at and near Stonehenge that people came from all over Britain to partake in these winter feasts. Some came from the far north of Scotland, like Orkney, which is a fair distance to travel today (about 700 miles, I think, from Orkney to Wiltshire) never find in 2000-odd BC. So archaeologists believe that as many as 5000 people came from all over Britain each winter solstice - when Britain had a population of just tens of thousands - to meet each other and partake in celebratory feasts and drinking. Archaeologists have found that some of the more greedy Neolithic revellers ate whole pig ribs, which were then just tossed aside and discarded. They also brought with them the dead of their nobility. They then walked in a long procession carrying their dead along the huge straight but natural avenue that leads from the feasting site to Stonehenge and there, at around the time that the midwinter setting sun shone straight through the middle of Stonehenge, they buried their dead. The midwinter setting sun was very important in British Neolithic people's religion.
But why was Stonehenge built where it is? Archaeolgists believe that the incredibly straight but natural avenue that leads to it is a remnant of the last Ice Age, and they believe that Neolithic Britons were in awe of its straightness and believed it was some sort of sign from their gods. So they built a cemetery there to bury their important people.
Funnily, though, many people today think that Stonehenge was built to celebrate the RISING sun on SUMMER solstice because the rising summer solstice sun also shines straight through the centre of it, hence the revellers which go there to see the sun rise on June 21st each year. When, in actual fact, it's believed by experts to have celebrated the SETTING of the sun on WINTER solstice, December 21st.
Edited by TheLastLazyGun, 12 March 2013 - 01:53 PM.