What exactly is Stonehenge and why is it so popular?

Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I will get a commission if you make a purchase through these...

Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I will get a commission if you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you. This allows me to receive a compensation for the time and effort invested in creating the best content for you. Thank you for your support!

Last updated: July 2021

Stonehenge is a very well known landmark around the world, so it's no surprise if you've heard about it before: at school, on books, movies, videogames... you name it.

It is probably the most sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the entire world - a mysterious 5000 years old megalithic monument that still lifts a lot of questions to this day: 

On this blog post we will be answering these questions so you can understand why is this site so important and popular. If you would rather watch a vlog of our visit to the site while I explain you the same information on video format, then click the video below:

Who built Stonehenge?

After visiting Stonehenge, I have to confess that some points weren't very clear to me. Even though I listened to the audio guide as I was walking around the site, questions like "who built Stonehenge" and "what was it's purpose" weren't exactly answered.

It might have just been that I am incapable of multitasking, and ended up not paying attention to the audio guide as I was trying to take in the site, or maybe there isn't an easy answer to that.

So later when I came home and decided to edit my vlog and create this blog post, I stumbled upon a couple of articles, blog posts and YouTube videos which felt completely overwhelming. It was like being on a history class where I just couldn't keep up with it. 

So I decided to cover these questions as simple and plain as I could, so normal human beings like me and you could understand it, without all of the fancy words and historic facts that made my head spin after a couple of minutes.

So... who built Stonehenge after all?

The correct and simple answer to that is: a group of people from different cultures, who built and modified the site over hundreds or even thousands of years  according to their needs. What we see today in the site is slightly different to the original structure, and probably different to the structure three thousand years later.

This conclusion has been draft thanks to the help of archaeological discoveries, since artefacts from different eras and even human bodies from different centuries were found at the site.

What was the original purpose of the circle?

stonehenge purpose

So that takes me to the next point - what was the original purpose of the circle?

And once more, the answer isn't as simple as I wish it would be.

There's evidence that indicates that Stonehenge was used as a place to host religious ceremonies and burials, astronomy studies and even served as a calendar, since it is possible to identify the shortest and longest days of the year (winter and summer solstice) by the alignment with the sun in some of the stones. 

To this day, you can still witness the winter and summer solstice at the site, in an event that gathers loads of people from around the country, who want to experience what our ancestors might have felt when seeing the sun rays shining through the stones of Stonehenge, marking this important time of the year. During this event, people are allowed to be inside of the stone circle and even touch the stones.

The fact that Stonehenge had so many different purposes makes a lot of sense when we think that it was built and modified by many different people, from different cultures, with different needs - as mentioned above. 

How were these heavy stones transported to the site and put together?

stonehenge stones transportation

The stones that make the circle in Stonehenge are pretty big and heavy. While Sarsens, the largest stones in the circle - weighting around 25 tons and measuring up to 9 meters in height - were only transported for about 20 miles, the smaller Bluestones - weighting around 4 tons each - were transported from Wales.

When you realize that Stonehenge is around 5000 years old, you start wondering how were these stones transported to the site, specially knowing that some of them came from Wales, in a time where the wheel wasn't even invented yet!

While there are some theories around it, like rolling the stones over tree trunks or transporting them by boat on the river Avon, no one knows for sure.

In the end, we now have the theories and the speculations, but nothing is certain, and many questions are still left to be answered. 

So get on with it! Stonehenge will always be a mysterious site, and getting to know it will be the fun part.

Plan your visit

stonehenge stone circle
Admiring the stone circle at Stonehenge during our trip to the site

Now that you know what Stonehenge is, and why is it so popular, let's go over the things you need to know when you visit it.

Stonehenge is an English Heritage site, so members go free. Non members pay around £22, and you can purchase your tickets and check for availability here. Opening times may vary according to the season and their last entry is 2h before closing time. At the moment, booking is required as they are monitoring their numbers.

If you're driving from London, it only takes around 1h40 to 2h, depending on traffic. 

There is a shuttle bus on site that takes you from the tickets entrance to the stone circle. Otherwise, you can walk for about 30min.

There is a mobile app containing an audio guide that you can download on site, so you can get to know more about the site as you walk by each market location.





I hope this blog post brought you some light on why is Stonehenge such an important landmark, and what you need to know when visiting it!

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