Parts of Stonehenge May Have Been In Place Long Before Humans


One of the mysteries of Stonehenge is why its giant stones were dragged to an unremarkable hillside instead of being erected where they were originally found. One archaeologist might have an answer—some of the stones were already there. (Science Alert)

Learn a little more about the stones of Stonehenge, and test yourself with our 5-question Quick Quiz!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

The Heelstone, foreground, sits slightly outside the main semi-circles at Stonehenge.
Photograph courtesy The Stones of Stonehenge. CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Discussion Ideas

  • New research investigates the possible origins of at least two stones at Stonehenge. What is Stonehenge?
    • What we know:
      • Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain, in the county of Wiltshire, in southwest England. Archaeologists think it was constructed over the course of more than 1,000 years, between the Neolithic (~3000 BCE) and Bronze Age (~1500 BCE).
      • Stonehenge consists of concentric circles and semi-circles of earthen ditches and mounds, standing timbers (now eroded), and upright carved stones. Some stones were freestanding, while others were topped by lintels. The largest stones reach 4 meters (13 feet) high, 2.1 meters (7 feet) wide, and weigh about 25 tons.
      • Stonehenge’s central “avenue” is aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the sunrise of the summer solstice.
      • The Stonehenge site includes hundreds ritual burial mounds, called barrows, as well as cremated remains.
        • Many of those buried at Stonehenge did not come from England. Archaeologists have unearthed remains of people from Wales, Brittany (on France’s Atlantic coast), the Alps, and even the Mediterranean.
    • What we don’t know:
      • Archaeologists and historians don’t know exactly what Stonehenge was used for, although almost all agree it was a multi-function site that served many purposes. Some ideas:


  • The Stonehenge stones that were analyzed are called sarsens. What are sarsens?


This lovely diagram of Stonehenge circles the Heelstone and Stone 16 in red.
Illustration by Adamsan, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0




Science Alert: An Archaeologist Says Parts of Stonehenge Were There Long Before Any Humans

British Archaeology: Stonehenge Without Borders

Nat Geo: Stonehenge Quick Quiz

The Stones of Stonehenge

English Heritage: History of Stonehenge

UNESCO World Heritage: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Nat Geo: New Discovery Solves a Mystery at Stonehenge

Nat Geo: Stonehenge and the Roots of Monotheism

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