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Top 5 Facts: Stonehenge

VO: Ashley Bowman
Script written by Richard Bush Never mind about the Egyptians, pyramids, giant stone heads and Mayan societies, what’s the deal with Stonehenge? Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts and in today’s installment, we’re going to be counting down the Top 5 nuggets of knowledge about Stonehenge. A structure that has inspired and featured in books, films, TV shows and many a lecture on possible sacrificial séances, Stonehenge is one of the greatest mysteries of Britain. Sure, it carries an endless list of myths and theories, but what do we actually know for certain? Special thanks to our user Daniel Fong for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Facts About Stonehenge


Never mind about the Egyptians, pyramids, giant stone heads and Mayan societies, what’s the deal with Stonehenge?

Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts and in today’s installment, we’re going to be counting down the Top 5 nuggets of knowledge about Stonehenge. A structure that has inspired and featured in books, films, TV shows and many a lecture on possible sacrificial séances, Stonehenge is one of the greatest mysteries of Britain. Sure, it carries an endless list of myths and theories, but what do we actually know for certain?

#5: It was Sold at Auction for £6,600


Okay, so it’s hardly a cosy place in the cotswolds. Nevertheless, Stonehenge has been a desirable asset for years, changing hands many times. One owner in the early 1900s, Sir Edmund Antrobus, was the first to charge an admission fee for visitors - and although asked many times, refused to sell the property to the British Government. Ultimately, following a death in the Antrobus family in 1915, Stonehenge and its accompanying land went to the auction block and a local barrister, Mr Cecil Chubb, snatched it up for £6,600 - which is around £600,000 in today’s money. Legend has it, he bought it as a gift for his wife. But she mustn't been too keen because just three years later Chubb generously donated it to the Government - and the government knighted him to say thank you.

#4: It's a Massive Burial Site


You may have heard rumours about what happens on the surface of the Stonehenge site, but what about beneath it? Well, archaeologists have discovered thousands of bones in numerous pits around the site which belonged to almost 100 different people, who are thought to have been buried there during the late Neolithic and copper age. But these weren't just ordinary people. According to research, only the elite were buried at Stonehenge, and they weren't just locals, many of them were from all over the world. One of the most interesting things about these remains is that they were almost half men, half women - which gives great insight into equality between the sexes all those years ago.

#3: The Medieval population believed Merlin built it


Nowadays, we take accessing information via things like Google, TV and books for granted. But back in Medieval times, a lot of what you learnt would have been from word of mouth, including fictitious and non-fictitious stories. Naturally, this made for a few tall tales. One of these was Geoffrey of Monmouth’s story of Merlin and Stonehenge. The story goes that Merlin, on a quest from king Aurelius Ambrosius, travelled to Ireland to retrieve healing stones from a circular rock formation called The Giant’s Ring. These were then brought back to England and Stonehenge was erected in honour of the hundreds of Britons slayed by the saxons. With this being one of the earliest depictions of Stonehenge in literature, it was widely regarded to be true, along with a lot of Geoffrey’s other work which was loosely based on real-life people, stories and locations.

#2: Earthworms Sank Stonehenge


No they didn’t use a shrink ray, it’s actually much cooler than that. Essentially, earthworms live beneath the ground and eat soil - and once it has passed through them and they’ve got all the nutrients they need, they excrete the remains, known as worm cast, above the soil in little mounds. This results is the surface level actually rising, which in effect makes whatever is on the surface - like stones - sink. This little gem of knowledge came from Charles Darwin back in the 1800s, and he stated that the surface of the soil at Stonehenge increases around 0.2 inches a year. To put that in perspective, that would mean the surface of the soil would rise 20 inches every 100 years. So it may only be a matter of time until they’re gone… well, a few thousand years, but still.

#1: Stones From 150 Miles Away


The big, archway-like stones are of course the most famous and recognisable at Stonehenge, but what about the numerous other surrounding stones? Well, unlike the larger stones which are thought to have been sourced locally, the 80, smaller surrounding stones, known as bluestones, can actually be traced back to the Preseli Hills - which by the way, is around 150 miles away in Wales. Exactly how these two tonne stones were transported is a little unclear, with one theory suggesting it had something to do with glacial movements. A more rock solid theory however, pardon the pun, suggests that they were brought from Wales via boats or rafts. If that is true though, it still begs the question, why go through the effort to source stones from so far away?

So, which Stonehenge facts left you Googling away? For more top 10s rooted in ancient history be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo UK.
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