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Chapter 2 Journal Activity

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The "Who, How. Where, Why, When" question. (2)


***The "Who' is probable the easiest question to answer as Stonehenge was built by "US" We are all descendants of stone age people, just as we are all descendants of the first homo sapiens. Volunteering as a Neolithic Interpreter, in the experimental huts at the Stonehenge visitor centre, has shown me quite clearly how similar we are to the people who probably built Stonehenge. So to answer the fist question, our ancestors build Stonehenge using the technology they had during this period. Wood, stone, bone, fibre, vegetation, earth, fire and water would have been used together with human and possibly animal power. From findings in the ditch we assume that antler and cow clavicle were used as pick axe and shovel respectively to build the henge (which is technically a reverse henge). The, larger, sarson stones came from the surrounding landscape probably from Marlborough, while the, smaller, blue stones originated from the Preseli Hills in the west of Britton.
Dating Stonehenge has mainly been achieved by radio carbon dating of ex living materials and the current estimations suggest dates around 3000BC for the henge, around 2500 for the parsons and indeterminate dates for the blue stones. The blue stones may have arrived as the first stones but their current resting place dates from around 2200BC.
The Stonehenge landscape however predates the monument, indeed the site of the monument was in use for many thousands of years prior to the erection of the stones. There is evidence of mesolithic activity at Stonehenge from around 8000BC. Recent evidence from Blick Mead suggests that our ancestors were active in the area from at least the mesolithic period and that the use of the area was reletively continuous. Durrington Walls and Woodhenge were places of gatherings, possibly some semi permanent but probably seasonal to coincide with the solstices, known times of building Stonehenge. Both of these great "villages" and possibly more, as yet undiscovered, could have been the settings where the people who built the monument lived and worked.
The flippant answer to the question of why is to say why not? Stone circles were not new to Britain but why Stonehenge and why with such skill and permanence. Perhaps our ancestors thought that Salisbury was the centre of Britain, perhaps because it had been a place of gathering for so long already. Perhaps the parallel white lines in front of the heel stone were seen as a sign. It is clear that for whatever reason the site was chosen, it was built by Neoliths from all over Britain. The strontium 90 testing of pigs teeth at Durrinton show that some were driven from Orkney, others from the far west and yet others from the far east of Britain.
Something drove the neolithic people of Britain to make a mark of some permanence. There are many theories but onc thing is certain, it was built to last with mortice and tenon plus tongue and grove joints in stone and whatever it is, it has kept us guessing for many centuries.

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