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Salisbury England
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Salisbury and Stonehenge

Sheep grazing on the lush Salisbury Plain



The main chapel inside Salisbury Cathedral


Stonehenge archaeological site is located about 8 miles northwest of Salisbury,
in Wiltshire, England. Built in prehistoric times beginning about 3100 BC, it is a monumental circular setting of large standing stones surrounded by an earthwork. The monument consists of a number of structural elements, mostly circular in plan. On the outside is a circular ditch, with a bank immediately within it, all interrupted by an entrance gap on the northeast, leading to a straight path called the Avenue. At the center of the circle is a stone setting consisting of a horseshoe of tall uprights of sarsen (Tertiary sandstone) encircled by a ring of tall sarsen uprights, all originally capped by horizontal sarsen stones in a post-and-lintel arrangement. Within the sarsen stone circle were also configurations of smaller and lighter bluestones (igneous rock of diabase, rhyolite, and volcanic ash), but most of these bluestones have disappeared. Additional stones include the so-called Altar Stone, the Slaughter Stone, two Station stones, and the Heel Stone, the last standing on the Avenue outside the entrance. Archaeological excavations suggest three main periods of building -- Stonehenge I (3100 BC), II (2100 BC), and III (2000 BC), the last divided into phases. Why Stonehenge was built is unknown, though it probably was constructed as a place of worship of some kind. The English astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer demonstrated that the northeast axis aligned with the sunrise at the summer solstice, leading other scholars to speculate that the builders were sun worshipers.

Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain


Stonehenge close-up