Some 5,000 years ago, a Neolithic civilization in southern England began to erect the world’s most famous standing-stone monument, refining and enlarging it over several centuries. Yet its builders left no written records, so why and how Stonehenge was constructed remains a mystery.
Modern scientists are slowly unlocking Stonehenge’s secrets. For example, many of the smaller pillars, known as bluestones, are now believed to have been hauled to the site from central Wales—more than 100 miles away. And while Stonehenge is most famous for its alignment with the rising Sun during the summer solstice, some researchers have suggested that it could have been constructed to serve as a daily calendar or even an eclipse calculator. Whatever its true purpose, the stone circle remains a uniquely iconic enigma visited by 800,000 people each year.
Kelly Beatty, senior editor at Sky and Telescope magazine, discusses these new developments and the enduring mystery of Stonehenge.