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 Myths and Legends of Stonehenge

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Faerielass
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PostSubject: Myths and Legends of Stonehenge   Thu May 19, 2011 10:39 am

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The ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the many wonders of the world. Believed to have been erected between circa 3000BC and 1600BC. Each monument was a circular structure, aligned with the rising of the sun at the midsummer solstice.

There has been many debates over what purpose Stonehenge served. Certainly, it was the focal point in a landscape filled with prehistoric ceremonial structures. A huge effort and great organisation was needed to carry the stones tens, and sometimes hundreds, of miles by land and water and then to shape and raise them. Only a sophisticated society could have mustered so large a workforce and the design and construction skills necessary to produce Stonehenge and its surrounding monuments.

Stonehenge's orientation in relation to the rising and setting sun has always been one of its most remarkable features. Whether this was because its builders came from a sun-worshipping culture or because - as some scholars have asserted - the circle and its banks were part of a huge astronomical calendar, remains a mystery. What cannot be denied is the ingenuity of the builders of Stonehenge. With only very basic tools available at the time, they shaped the stones. Using antlers and bones, they dug the pits to hold the stones and made the banks and ditches that enclosed them.

It was believed that during the Roman period the British rebel queen Boudicca was buried at Stonehenge. During the Roman campaign of AD61 where the Romans wanted to stamp out the Druids Cassius wrote that the British buried Boudicca in a lavish ceremony befitting a Celtic monarch, labelling her as a heroine of the resistance to the Romans occupation. This then gave rise to the story that she was buried at Stonehenge and the stone circle was built by the Druids to mark her tomb.

Other stories have been told of how the legendary Merlin commanded that an Irish monument call the Giants Dance be transported all the way to Salisbury Plain and set up as a monument to surround the mass grave of the 300 British noblemen by the treacherous Saxon leader, Henges. This was found in the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Evil powers have been associated with Stonehenge. One story tells of the devil who buys magical stones from an Irish woman. He transports them to Salisbury Plain and then dares the entire village to count the stones. A monk of the village tells him there are too many to tell, (which is based on another myth that says it is impossible to count all the stones). The devil gets so angry that he throws one of the stones at him and it hits the monk on his heel. Although the monk is unhurt, the stone is dented and has ever since been known as the Heel Stone.

by Stuart
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