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Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument, in the English county of Wiltshire, approximately 3 miles west of Amesbury, and 8 miles north of Salisbury. It is one of the most famous sites in the world, and it's composed of earthworks, surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. It is believed that it was constructed in 3 phases, which required more than 30 million hours of labor. The reason of its construction is believed to be somewhere between human sacrifice and astronomy.
However, archaeologists found evidence, in 2008, that Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The cremated remains, found on the site, suggest that the monument dates from as early as 3000 BC, and that the burials continued for at least another 500 years. There are many legends and stories, surrounding Stonehenge's history, its real purpose being almost impossible to identify. In this legends, the ancient monument appears as a healing place or as a Devil's tool, but each and every one of these stories end by highlighting its greatness and increasing interest.
Although, the monument's original purpose is unclear to mankind, Stonehenge is surely Britain's greatest national icon, symbolizing mystery, power and endurance. The stones we see today represent Stonehenge in ruin. Many of the original stones have fallen or have been removed by previous generations for home construction or road repair. All the same, Stonehenge is still one of UK's most important places of interest, one of its most popular attractions and one of the most history-filled sites found within its boundaries.
Stonehenge is not the only ancient site the area. Only 25 miles north of this intriguing prehistoric monument, there is the Avebury complex, argued to be the most impressive of all remaining prehistoric earthworks in Europe. While Stonehenge is surrounded by more fantasy legends, Avebury seems to have been dedicated to more human themes. It has a strong sexual symbolism, highlighted by the way the triangular and columnar stones were paired together, which, along with the elaborate funeral celebrations, show us that the cycle of birth, life and death was very important in Neolithic times.
About 1 mile east of Stonehenge there is "Bluestonehenge" or "Bluehenge", a prehistoric henge and stone circle monument that was discovered by the Stonehenge Riverside Project. All that presently remains of the site is the ditch of the henge and a series of stone settings, none of which is visible above ground.
Another place of archaeological interest, near Stonehenge, is Robin Hood's Ball, a Neolithic causewayed enclosure, situated about 2.5 miles from Stonehenge. Despite its name, Robin Hood's Ball is not related to the famous folklore hero Robin Hood. Nineteenth Century maps show that its name was actually given to a small circular copse of wood just to the north west of the earthworks, which, makes it probable that over time, the name came to be associated with the enclosure instead.
Woodhenge is also near Stonehenge, and, it is as impressive at the older Neolithic and Bronze Age monument of Stonehenge itself. It is situated 2 miles north-east of Stonehenge, in the parish of Durrington, just north of Amesbury. It was identified in 1925, after an aerial archaeology survey by Alexander Keiller and OGS Crawford, and, from the excavation, was identified as being consistent with the Grooved ware style of the middle Neolithic, although later Beaker sherds were also found. The site is believed to consist of a central burial, surrounded first by six concentric rings of postholes, then by a single ditch and finally an outer bank, around 85 m wide. As in Stonehenge's case, the purpose of Woodhenge's creation is also surrounded by mystery, and we can only suppose regarding it.
Other places of interest near Stonehenge include the Stonehenge Cursus, also referred to as the Greater Cursus, a large Neolithic cursus monument next to Stonehenge, part of the National Trust's Stonehenge Landscape property, roughly 3km long and between 100 and 150 m wide. Excavations made in 2007 date it between 3630 and 3375 BC, which makes it several hundred years older than the earliest phase of Stonehenge - 3000 BC.