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08-Mar-2016 23:47

Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC.

A stone (gneiss) macehead and bone pins found associated with cremated human remains in the Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge, evidence that very early in its development Stonehenge was a cemetery © English Heritage, with permission from Salisbury Museum but the earliest known major event was the construction of a circular ditch with an inner and outer bank, built about 3000 BC.

This enclosed an area about 100 metres in diameter, and had two entrances. Within the bank and ditch were possibly some timber structures and set just inside the bank were 56 pits, known as the Aubrey Holes.

In the early Bronze Age many burial mounds were built nearby.

Today, along with Avebury, it forms the heart of a World Heritage Site, with a unique concentration of prehistoric monuments.

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It is not known how these posts relate to the later monument of Stonehenge.

There has been much debate about what stood in these holes: the consensus for many years has been that they held upright timber posts, but recently the idea has re-emerged that some of them may have held stones.