FASANELLO ALESSIA 1G 31.03.2012 TOPIC: THE ENDURING MYSTERY OF STONEHENGE 1 EXCUSE ME, MISS GUIDE, CAN YOU GIVE US SOME GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT STONEHENGE? Yes, sure. In the country of Wiltshire (South-West of England) there is the Cromlech of Stonehenge, one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. It was building by Neolithic people, between c.3000 BC and c. 1500 BC. It consists in a construction composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. 2 WHEN WAS STONEHENGE BUILT? Scientific study and excavations have identified three main constructional phases between c. 3000 BC and c. 1500 BC. 1. During the first phase Neolithic people began the construction of a circular ditch and inside it they dug 56 shollow holes. 2. In the second phase granite stones were erected in a semicircle within the original bank and ditch circles. These stones come from the Prescelly mountains in South Wales and are known as “blue stones. 3. The stone circle belongs to the third phase. During this period the builders constructed a circle of sandstone monoliths, each pair of which was topped with an horizontal capstone. Within this ring was erected a horseshoe formation consisting of five trilithons. This horseshoe shape opens towards the Slaughter Stone and down the Avenue and it is aligned with sunrise during the summer solstice. 3 WHY DID NEOLITHIC PEOPLE USE BLUE STONES? There is a simple reason for this: Prehistoric people were fascinated by them because of their blue. Blue was a colour they considered sacred. The blue stone clearly possessed a potent symbolic for prehistoric man. This colour was the main attraction . The Beaker peoples, the first Bronze Age people in Britain, were sky-worshipped and we know blue was an important colour for an eventually secceeding culture, the Celtic. The Celts tattooed and paited themselves with the indigo-hued dye of woad, a plant they introduced to Britain for the purpose. They very word “British” means “the blue painted celts”. To a modern eye, blue stones looks more dark grey, maybe as an effect of weathering. 4 AND HOW WAS IT USED? Since the 12th century Stonehenge has aroused curiosity and has been the subject of study and speculation. No one knows exactly why it was built and how it was used, but it probably was an ancient religious site or a place where people worshipped ancient gods. Some scientists think that Stonehenge was a kind of astronomical observatory and probably also used as a calendar. 5 EXCUSE ME FOR THE INTERRUPTION, BUT.. STONEHENGE WAS ERECTED BY DIFFERENT PEOPLE? Yes, the main builders were the Iberians and the Celts. The Iberians built in the first phase of Neolithic period. Instead, the Celts built it around 700 BC. 6 BUT WHY IS IT SO MYSTERIOUS AND FASCINATING? The main reason was certainly the colour of the stones, but there are other reasons, too. In fact, the mystery attracts people to know something. We don’t know why it was built, even we have got some information. Then, it attracts for some original functions: in fact the Celts worshipped the natural elements such as the Sun, the moon, the trees and the rivers, since water was regarded as the holy element which generates life and as the door to the world after death. They believed in immortality and in the transmigration of the soul from one person to another. It was thought that life after death was still spent on the Earth in caves, hills or lakes, and this idea contributed to giving nature a magical connotation. One means of communicating with the spiritual world, as in many civilisations was thought sacrifice. The Celts made offerings of precious objects to the gods. The more valuable the offering, the more powerful the act of propitiation. Thus one would expect a human sacrifice to take place only at times of great need or to express great gratitude to the supernatural forces, most Celtic animal sacrifice was of domestic species. OK, GUYS. NOW WE MUST GO. EXCUSE ME, CAN YOU TELL ME IF THERE IS A SOUVENIR SHOP, BECAUSE MY STUDENTS CERTAINLY WANT TO TAKE HOME A SOUVENIR OF THIS WONDERFUL TRIP. The gift shop is located at the entrance. VERY WELL, THANK YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL TOUR GUIDE EXPLAINED OF LITTLE TIME AGO. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW WAS THE EXPLANATION? VERY BEAUTIFUL AND INTERESTING, THANKS MISS. Anything, it was a pleasure. And if you want to find out how much attention did you have you have, take one of those sheets at the entrance of the site. YES, SURE. GOODBYE AND THANK YOU.