We now know that Stonehenge's stones traveled great distances to reach their final destination in Wiltshire, some coming from as far away as western Wales. The sheer amount of human power required to move and place those stones might very well have been the point of the whole endeavor, as a team of archaeologists now believes that Stonehenge was a monument built to signal the unification of Great Britain.
Stonehenge photo by Darkest Before Dawn.
Archaeologists from the universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Southampton, Bournemouth and University College London have been working on the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP), taking a holistic view to exploring the landmark's mysteries, looking not just at the stones themselves, but also at the island's contemporaneous artifacts. They noted that at the time, there was a growing similarity in the styles of houses, home goods, and other artifacts, suggesting that the region's early farming communities were coming into a common culture:
"When Stonehenge was built", said Professor Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, "there was a growing island-wide culture – the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast. This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries. Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labour of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everyone literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification."
The archaeologists have suggested that the communities of eastern and western Britain might have suffered a long-standing conflict, and Stonehenge was a symbol of their unity, a literal coming together of stones from various parts of the island that required incredible human labor to achieve.
As for why Stonehenge was built at its particular location, the SRP team discovered that it sits atop a series of natural landforms that form an axis between the direction of the summer solstice sunrise and the winter solstice sunset. Professor Parker Pearson wondered if these Stone Agers saw this axis as "the centre of the world."
SRP assures us that no alien or ancient Egyptian influence in Stonehenge's construction. In fact, Stonehenge was constructed using Stone Age techniques when other parts of Europe were developing more sophisticated tools. It appears that, in the end, the solution to Stonehenge's mysteries may well be old fashioned sweat and determination.
Research finds Stonehenge was monument marking unification of Britain [The University of Sheffield via PhysOrg]