23 December 2010
Stonehenge always gets a little extra attention at a solstice.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of Salisbury. It is one of the most famous sites in the world.
Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. It is actually the center of a complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments.
Archaeologists had believed that the iconic stone monument was erected around 2500 BC. The complex included a large timber circle and a second avenue that were constructed 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) away at Durrington Walls overlooking the River Avon.
This timber circle was orientated towards the rising sun on the winter solstice and opposing the solar alignments at Stonehenge. The "avenue" was aligned with the setting sun on the summer solstice and led from the river to the timber circle.
Evidence has been found of huge fires that were burned on the banks of the Avon between the two avenues. This suggests to researchers that these two circles were linked. This may have been a processional route on the longest and shortest days of the year.
Michael Parker Pearson speculates that the wooden circle at Durrington Walls was the center of a "land of the living" and that the the stone circle at Stonehenge represented a "land of the dead."
The Oxford English Dictionary cites Ælfric's 10th-century glossary, in which henge-cliff is given the meaning "precipice", a hanging or supported stone.
So, the stanenges or Stanheng "not far from Salisbury" recorded by 11th-century writers are the "supported stones".
The origin of this place name is probably from the Old English words stān meaning "stone", and either hencg meaning "hinge" (because the stone lintels hinge on the upright stones) or hen(c)en meaning "hang" or "gallows" since the stones look like the medieval gallows with two uprights with a lintel joining them (as opposed to the modern inverted L gallows we would draw).
Photo and Information: http://stonehengenews.wordpress.com
A Brief History of Stonehenge
If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge (for kids)
Solving Stonehenge: The Key to an Ancient Enigma
Nova: Secrets of Stonehenge