National Geographic : 2008 Jun
STAGES OF STONEHENGE EARTHWORK ENCLOSURE A circular ditch-and-bank monument some 375 feet across was cut into the chalk of Salisbury Plain about 3000 B.C. This earthwork is the "henge" in Stonehenge, though most Neolithic henges were built with the ditch inside the bank. Timber posts may have stood in some of the 56 circular pits that lined the bank's inner edge. TIMBER MONUMENTS A distinct new phase took shape in the middle to late Neolithic period. Timber posts were erected in linear patterns near the northeast entrance and across the center toward the southern entrance. Cremation remains lead archaeologists to believe the site was being used as a cemetery. ENTER THE STONES Bluestones Circular or semicircular arrangements of stones probably appeared by 2500 B.C.,the earliest being pairs of four-ton bluestones (their color when wet) now known to have been brought about 250 miles from Wales. Also added: features called Station Stones, the Altar Stone, and the Heel Stone just outside the northeast entrance. Sarsen Circle Stonehenge gained its iconic shape with the creation of the 16-foot-high Sarsen Circle-30 worked stones topped by lintels. In a horseshoe configuration inside the circle towered five freestanding trilithons, each formed of two upright stones linked by a lintel. The tallest reached 25 feet. The chalk bank was recut, small circular earthworks were added, and a banked avenue ran nearly two miles to the River Avon. Later Refinements Bluestones that had been cast aside were repositioned as a circle and a horseshoe within the Sarsen Circle, and a double ring of pits was dug. By about 1500 B.C.Stonehenge was no longer maintained. ARTBYOLIVERUBERTI,NG STAFF.SOURCES:MIKEPARKER PEARSON,UNIVERSITYOFSHEFFIELD;SCIENCEAND STONEHENGE,BARRYCUNLIFFEAND COLINRENFREW,EDS.