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Dating Stonehenge

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The Builders

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The first Stonehenge

The first Stonehenge was an enclosure, its slightly sloping central area defined by an irregularly dug ditch with an interior bank of a more regular profile. Around parts of the ditch was a small outer, or counterscarp, bank. There were two certain entrances. One faced north-east and remained in use throughout the active life of Stonehenge, while a smaller one faced south.
History of Stonehenge

From its earliest phase up to its abandonment 1500 years later, Stonehenge was probably the most important temple in Britain. Since then, it has been viewed by different ages and by different people both as an enigma and as a source of inspiration.
The Cursus Barrows, Winterbourne Stoke, New King Barrows

As the name of this group suggests, it lies close to the Cursus, on the crest of a low ridge that runs parallel to its southern bank. This position is quite deliberate: the mounds of the impressive bowl and bell barrows are placed so that they are most prominent and, from Stonehenge, appear silhouetted against the skyline.
Barrow Types

Within the Stonehenge landscape the most numerous and spectacular prehistoric monuments are undoubtedly the great groups of round barrows. These are Bronze-Age burial mounds of a wide variety of shapes and sizes, dating from the time when Stonehenge was being rebuilt in stone.
Woodhenge, Coneybury Henge, West Amesbury Henge

Close to Durrington Walls lies Woodhenge, a site that aerial photographs taken in 1925 revealed to be a levelled henge. The bank and internal ditch enclosed a circular area about 50 m. (160 ft) in diameter, with a single entrance facing north-east. Within the interior lay six concentric circles of pits, varying considerably in size and shown by excavations carried out shortly after the discovery to have held upright timbers.
Durrington Walls

Just before 2500 BC, when the great stones were being brought to Stonehenge, other henges – enclosures of chalk and timber – were being built within the surrounding landscape. The greatest of these was Durrington Walls, a massive enclosure over 470 m. (500 yds) in diameter on the west bank of the river Avon nearly 3 km. (2 miles) north-east of Stonehenge. Durrington is a more traditional henge, with a huge bank lying outside an equally massive ditch, but despite its size it is difficult to see from ground level.
The Cursus, the lesser Cursus, long barrows

Built before the first Stonehenge was the unusual monument known as the Cursus. This is an elongated earthwork enclosure with a ditch and bank that define an area more than 100 m. (330 ft) wide and 2,7 km. (1,7 miles) long. It runs east-west across the downland to the north of Stonehenge, crossing a shallow valley towards its central part.
Robin Hood's Ball

Robin Hood's Ball is an earthwork enclosure lying on the summit of a low ridge 4 km. (2,5 miles) north-west of Stonehenge. It lies in the Army's Salisbury Plain Training Area and is not accessible to the public. Consisting of two concentric circuits of ditch and bank, it is an example of a type of site known as a causewayed enclosure.
The alignment of Stonehenge

This point, close to the Heel Stone, lies on the axis of Stonehenge. This is an alignment that runs north-east to south-west, up the final straight section of the Avenue and through the enclosure entrance. Recent excavations have shown that this part of the Avenue may be based on natural landscape features – “visible stripes” in the surface of the chalk formed at the end of the last Ice Age.
The Heel Stone, Slaughter Stone and Avenue

Moving further round the path, the visitor comes to a huge unworked sarsen, known as the Heel Stone, that stands close to the fence at the edge of the A344 road.