How old is Stonehenge and where did the stones come from?

THE secrets of Stonehenge have finally been uncovered after decades of archaeological research.

Here's what we know about the origins and age of one of the world's oldest historical sites.

How old is Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is around 5000 years old.

Experts say that the monument was constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC.

Instantly recognisable from the surrounding roads, Stonehenge is made up of a ring of standing stones – each of which are around 13ft (4.1 metres) high, 6ft 11in (2.1m) wide and weighing 25 tons.

It was built in three stages.

The outer bank of Stonehenge was made in around 3000 BC, while the stone settings were built in 2500 BC.

Hundreds of people helped to construct the landmark – transporting the stones from the nearby Marlborough Downs and Preseli Hills, in south-west Wales.

The stones were then worked into shape using sarsen and flint hammerstones.

The stones are set within a group of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, as well as several hundred burial mounds.

Stonehenge was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, and is one of the most Instagrammed tourist attractions in Britain.

The site is managed by English Heritage – and is the third best view in Britain, according to our poll.

Who built it and why was it built?

Part of what makes Stonehenge so mysterious is that it was produced by a prehistoric culture with no written records.

Scientists regularly debate over how and why Stonehenge was built, and what it was used for.

Archaeologists believe it was constructed by three groups – the Neolithics, the Beaker people and the Wessex Peoples – who are said to have finalised the site into what we see today.

The latest theory, advanced by archaeologist and writer Mike Pitts, is that the rocks were there "millions of years before humans arrived".

His theory, which was published in British Archaeology, suggest that the rocks' alignment with the solstice sun was merely a coincidence.

It was this accidental alignment that got the boulders noticed by early Brits, who then decided to build it up into a proper monument.

One theory suggests Stonehenge was a sacred burial site, while another proposes that it was used for celestial and astronomical alignments.

Some also think it was an ancient place of healing.

It used to be believed that it was created as a Druid temple but we now know that Stonehenge predated the Druids by around 2000 years.

Where is Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is located near Amesbury, in Wiltshire.

It can be seen from the A303 as you drive past.

The site is a two-and-a-half hour drive from London, and an hour from Bath or Southampton.

It is run by English Heritage and is open to visitors between 9.30am and 5pm, with last entry at 2.30pm.

It is free to visit for members, otherwise it costs £21.10 per adult, £12.70 for a child, or £54.90 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

You must book online in advance due to coronavirus restrictions on the number of visitors allowed in.

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