Stonehenge is probably one of the most well-known historic monuments in United Kingdom and one of the most famous sites in the world. Some sources say that the monument was built as early as 3000 BC, but the Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first stones were raised somewhere between 2400 and 2200 BC. One important aspect is that it is situated in the middle of the densest complex of Bronze Age and Neolithic monuments in England. In 1986 the monument and the surroundings were added to the UNESCO`s list of World Heritage Sites.
Stonehenge could have been used in the past as a burial ground because archeologist found here numerous human bones from as early as 3000 BC. There are other theories that suggest that the site was built by aliens. But a thing that cannot be contested is that Stonehenge is a place of religious significance and pilgrimage in Neo-Druidry. Between 1972 and 1984, Stonehenge was the site of the Stonehenge Free Festival. After the Battle of the Benfield in 1985, this use of the site was stopped for several years and ritual use of Stonehenge is now heavily restricted. Some Druids have arranged an assembling of monuments styled on Stonehenge in other parts of the world. The first pagan group that used Stonehenge as a special religious place was the Ancient Order of Druids. They performed here a special initiation ritual in which they „baptized” around 260 new members to their community. The organization was really ridiculed in the press because of the fact that the druids had fake beards and they were wearing only white clothes.
One interesting fact is that when the site was first open to the public you could actually walk among the stones and even climb them. Because of the serious degradation caused by the permissive policy, the stones were roped off in 1977. Nowadays, visitors are not allowed to touch the stones, but they can walk around the stones from a short distance away. However, English Heritage (managing institution of the monument) permits access during the winter and summer solstice and equinoxes. Geoffrey of Monmouth (cleric and one of the most important figures in developing the British historiography), known for his stories about King Arthur, included a story in his work Historia Regum Britannie that attributed the monument`s construction to Merlin, the wizard. In his story Geoffrey said that the stones were healing rocks brought by giants from Africa to Ireland for their healing properties. Of course, the story is really captivating and we recommend you to read it while you enjoy your afternoon tea.