Things We Are Not Taller Than: Salisbury, England

This post is part of a series. You can read about the origins of our travel tradition here.

It was built by the druids. Or by Merlin. Or by giants, who, while dancing in a ring, became frozen by an inexplicable power and turned to stone. It was magic, or superb engineering, or the work of the devil that brought the stones from some 150 miles away and arranged them in their circle. It was used for sacrifices, or as a burial ground, or for solstice celebrations. There’s much we don’t know about Stonehenge, and in some ways, I kind of prefer it that way.

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What we do know: archaeologists approximate that Stonehenge was built somewhere between 3000 and 2000 BC—so roughly 5000 years ago. Before Stonehenge there was Woodhenge, which were pine poles arranged in a roughly similar formation. They have found deposits of remains, both from animals (deer, mostly), as well as from humans. About 150 unique remains have been found—interestingly they are mainly cremated—making Stonehenge the largest Neolithic cemetery in the U.K.

Stonehenge is composed of two different circles—an inner U shape, and the outer ring. There is evidence that the stones were rearranged about 300 or so years after they were first raised, but no one knows why. There are also concentric pits, or ditches dug around and between the circles, again, to an unknown purpose. No doubt about it—Stonehenge hides its secrets well.

In fact, compared the other New 7 Wonders of the World—which include Christ the Redeemer, Macchu Picchu, Chichén Ichá, the Colosseum, Petra, and the Great Wall of China—we know shockingly little about the site and its purpose here. And in today’s age of information, that’s a wonder in itself.