Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Amesbury, Salisbury SP4 7DE

RELIGIONS New age, Paganism


Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world, while Avebury is the largest in the world. Together with inter-related monuments and their associated landscapes, they help us to understand Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and mortuary practices. It stands on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, and its giant stones can be seen from miles around. Some people think that Stonehenge was used to study the movements of the Sun and Moon. Other people think it was a place of healing. Some historians proposed that the Druids used the structure as a temple, a sacrificial high place, ceremonial grounds, or a place where weekly libations were made to their gods. The ancient Britons believed that the Sun and Moon had a special power over their lives. It is very likely that they held special ceremonies at Stonehenge on Midsummer’s Day (the longest day of the year) and on Midwinter’s Day (the shortest day of the year). Many experts believe that Stonehenge was used for funerals. They suggest that people carried the dead along the River Avon, and then walked up to Stonehenge in a grand procession.
Stonehenge was built over many hundreds of years. Work began in the late Neolithic Age, around 3000BC. Over the next thousand years, people made many changes to the monument. The last changes were made in the early Bronze Age, around 1500BC. Stonehenge is just one of hundreds of stone circles that have been found in Britain. During the early Bronze Age, circles built from stone or wood played a very important part in the religious life of the British people. The most important funeral ceremony of the year was probably held on Midwinter’s Night at Stonehenge.
Over the years of research regarding Stonehenge there have been several different theories put forward as to why Stonehenge was built. The three most plausible seem to be: 1. A Sacred Burial Site 2. A Site for Celestial or Astronomical Alignments 3. A Place for Healing Historically popular opinion was that it was used as a Druid temple, however more modern understanding recognises that Stonehenge pre-dated the Druids by some 2,000 years. However the legacy lives on - thousands of modern day druids and people of alternative religions visit Stonehenge every year, particularly around the solstices and equinoxes. There is also evidence that Stonehenge and Durrington Walls was a place of pilgrimage. What is clear is that people travelled some way to Stonehenge. A skeleton found when studied was from a person originating from what is Switzerland today for example. Today, Stonehenge is used by pagan religions which have some similarities. Druids often use Stonehenge for formal ceremonies, normally long before the tourists arrive. Nobody knows for sure what Stonehenge was used for; that is part of the appeal and fun of visiting Stonehenge. Just come to your own personal conclusions.
The most visited and well known of the British stone rings, Stonehenge is a composite structure built during three distinct periods. Stonehenge continues to have a role as a sacred place of special religious and cultural significance for many, and inspires a strong sense of awe and humility for thousands of visitors who are drawn to the site every year.
- Direct visit
- Virtual visit
- Classroom activity (pre- and post- visit)


  • PNG

    In fact, the modern Druids still celebrates their ritual at the Stonehenge as evident in the photo below.


  • What is Stonehenge?
    This is an artist's impression of a ceremony at Stonehenge. We can only guess what happened there, but it is likely that hundreds of people gathered at the stones.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.