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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
Stonehenge Summarised Useful Facts For The Attention Of Visitors
Tenons And Mortices
The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain
The Building Of Stonehenge
The Druid Question
The Earthwork
The Foreign Stones
The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel
The Legend Of The Friar's Heel
The Lithology Of Stonehenge
The Men Of The Barrows
The Process Of Erection
The Round Barrows
The Slaughtering Stone
The Stones Without The Circle
The Story Of The Sarsens
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?


Salisbury Cathedral and its neighbour Stonehenge are two eminent
monuments of art and rudeness, and may show the first essay and
the last perfection in architecture.--Dr. Johnson, letter to
Mrs. Thrale, 1783.

Stonehenge is one of those historical monuments which possesses the
disadvantage of a reputation. The first impression is always one of
disappointment, the circle appears so much smaller than it really is
by reason of its isolated situation. Its proportions are dwarfed by
the wide expanse of downland which surrounds it. This feeling of
disappointment, however, gradually gives place to one of wonder, as
the stones are approached more closely, and their bulk is seen in true
proportion. The diameter of the outer circle of stones is 108 feet, or
almost exactly that of the internal diameter of the Dome of St.
Paul's. A casual glance even at the monument is sufficient to show
that its basic form is intended to be a circle. The earthwork which
girdles the stones is circular and 300 feet in diameter. Within this
stands the remnant of a circle of 30 upright stones, bearing imposts
upon them; within this again is what was once a circle of smaller
stones. Inside these three outer circular forms are two others, shaped
like a horseshoe. The first consisted of the five large Trilithons,
huge pylons of stone, comprising two uprights and an impost; standing
separate, while in front of them is the remnant of a horseshoe of
small upright stones, similar to those which comprise the inner circle
of the monument.

[Illustration: Upright stones shaded--Prostrate stones in outline.]

At first it may seem difficult to disentangle the chaos of fallen
stone which meets the eye; but when once the original design of the

structure is grasped, it becomes easy to piece together again in
imagination a work which even in the light of modern and scientific
engineering presents very considerable difficulties and problems.

Lying flat within these concentric circles and horseshoes is a single
flat tabular block generally known as the Altar Stone. From this
slab, now almost buried beneath the remains of a fallen Trilithon, the
visitor may look in a north-easterly direction, and through the arches
of the outer circle observe the Hele Stone or Friar's Heel, which
stands at some considerable distance from the main structure. On the
Summer Solstice (or Longest Day), the sun rises immediately over the
top of this monolith, when viewed from the centre of the Altar Stone.

Such, then, are the facts which meet the eye when standing within
Stonehenge. Each minute the stones appear to increase in bulk, and the
problem of their coming grows more inscrutable. Then if wearied with
such vastness, the eye may wander over the surrounding plain, broken
in almost every direction by the sepulchral mounds, or Barrows, which
cluster to the number of two hundred or more about the venerable stone
circle. The connection between Stonehenge and the Barrows, seems
almost irresistible. The hands which raised those huge monoliths must
assuredly have been laid to rest almost within the touch of their
shadow. Stonehenge and the Barrows, each casting light upon the
other's origin, confirming and reconfirming each other's existence,
knit together to-day as yesterday, by a bond of close union which even
Time and speculations cannot sever.

Next: The Lithology Of Stonehenge

Previous: Salisbury Plain

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