Stonehenge stones, a prehistoric monument, have always been a mystery when it comes to the origin of the stones. The beautiful monuments of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages have two types of stones, the smaller ones, known as bluestone and the larger ones known as the Sarsen stones. Bluestones are not local to the area but recent research says they originated from Preseli Hills, Southeast Wales. Originally, there were 80 sarsen stones in Stonehenge, but now only 52 of the original stones remain.
Amongst these 52, 15 stones form the central trilithon horseshoe, the slaughter stone, two original station stones, and 33 lintels and uprights from the outer Sarsen circle. Most Sarsen uprights here have a long-axis length, and they weigh about 20 metric tonnes. The largest of the stones, stone 56, is 9.1 meters long and weighs about 30 metric tonnes. Due to the size and length of the Sarsen stones, it is believed they originated from Marlborough Downs.
The heel stone is one of the biggest Stonehenge stones and is also known as Stone 96 or ‘The Friar’s Heel.’ It is a natural stone with no work being done to it and it weighs over 36 tonnes. This sarsen stone is massive and unshaped, standing in isolation encircled by a minor circular ditch. Heel Stone is known for marking the place on the horizon where summer solstice sunrise happens every year on the longest day of the year. One can view it from the centre of the circle, and thousands of people gather to watch this event.
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Stonehenge only six lintels remain of the outer sarsen circle. Every lintel is locked with the supporting upright sarsens using a mortise and tenon joint. It is locked to the neighbouring stones using groove joints and a tongue. The care and Restoration work on them makes the outer and inner faces of these lintels work together to give the illusion of an incessant ring of stone.
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Station stones originally were four outlying Stonehenge stones, yet only two remain now. These stones in Stonehenge created a rectangle around the central monument as the shortest side of the stone rectangle aligns with the main solstitial axis. On the other hand, the long sides of the stone align with the southernmost moonrise and moonset on the northernmost side. Modern stone or steel markers here display the positions of the missing two stones 94 and 92, one on each side-south and north.
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At some point in time, a pin was driven into Stone 52's northwest face, which you can see clearly in many photos. The southern edge of the stone has the exciting graffiti ‘I WREN'. Experts say that Sir Christopher Wren was the mastermind behind this graffiti, who was also the architect of Sir Christopher Wren. Also, the same graffiti is present on one other stone, stone 23, on its west face. Though, no one knows if it was Sir Christopher or someone else.
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One of the largest sarsen Stonehenge stones, the slaughter stone, got its name due to the creativity of the Victorians. The stone was originally standing upright at the entrance to Stonehenge, but it was flanked by multiple stones, now missing, making the surviving stone lie horizontally. The stone now has shallow crevices on the surface, collecting rainwater, which reacts with the iron in the stone, changing its colour to a rusty red. The belief was that the red colour came from having sacrifices here, which also gave the stone its name.
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The sarsens or stone 160 is in three remains and is a broken lintel of trilithon which is in the northwestern direction. It is known that the outermost setting of the entire stones in Stonehenge when completed would be a circle of 30 upright sarsens. They were capped by horizontal carefully shaped lintel stones. The sarsen stones you see today appear grey, but when they were fresh, they probably looked whiter and brighter.
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Stone 56 is the tallest stone amongst all the Stonehenge stones, making it challenging for visitors to take a full picture of the NE face. It is also the only remnant of the tallest trilithon, the head of the inner horseshoe. The purpose of creating this stone with a vertical side was to have a slot via to view the winter solstice setting sun. However, before it could happen, the companion of the trilithon fell. Stone 56 has mortice holes on the fallen lintel and tenon on top.
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Stone 68 is known to have a long-worked groove on its northern face. Due to this, historians believe it was paired with other stones in Stonehenge to create a double-width structure. It is among the 80 bluestones brought from Preseli Hills, Wales. The shaping of the stone also suggests it along with other Stonehenge stones was relocated here after being part of some other stone arrangement.
Stone 53 is one of the uprights of the trilithon, and it was in 1953 that Professor Atkinson discovered the outline of axe blades carved into its surface and a dagger. The shapes of these tools and weapons suggest they date back to the Bronze Age, likely between 1750 and 1500 BC. It implies that this stone was probably a later addition to the entire structure.
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One can find the altar stone at 80 degrees to the chief solstitial axis underneath the bent upright of stone 55b, or the Great Trilithon, and its lintel, AKA stone 156. The altar stone is sunk here into the grass, and it was broken when the great Trilithon, upright fell and is in two pieces. The 80-degree orientation of this stone shows its long dimension pointing in the direction of the summer solstice sunset and winter solstice sunrise.
Stone 60 is the only surviving upright of another stone trilithon. One of the many stones in Stonehenge, stone 60 has a massive hole at the base. The hole is so massive that many people can take shelter inside it during harsh weather conditions. In 1959, when restoration was taking place at Stonehenge, the stone’s little void was filled with some concrete. Also, the stone was straightened to ensure better positioning of it.
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