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Stonehenge

Ten things...

Do you know your henges from your burial mounds? Here are ten things that you might not have realised about this famous stone monument.

Carhenge at Alliance Nebraska
Carhenge at Alliance, Nebraska
© © Stuart Bay / Alamy
1. The first possible, but not proven, documented description of Stonehenge is contained in Histories Book V (50-30BC) by Diodorus Siculus, which referred to an island which had "a notable spherical temple".


2. Despite their links with Stonehenge, the Ancient Order of Druids, founded in 1781, didn't visit it until August 24, 1905, when it held a banquet and mass initiation ceremony for 258 novices.

3. King James I saw Stonehenge in 1620 when he stayed with the Duke of Buckingham at Wilton House and the Duke duly asked the then owner of the site, Robert Newdyk, if he would sell it. Newdyk refused.

4. The earliest known likeness of Stonehenge appeared in a 14th century manuscript, showing the history of the world, at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.


5. In the 1970s, excavations of Stonehenge unearthed hundreds of snail shells, which were discovered to have been the species Vallonia costata, a type that preferred open, but grass-covered, terrain.


6. There are over 900 stone circles or circle sites throughout the British Isles.


7. Relics found buried at Stonehenge have included a woman's torso and a deformed dog's head.


8. Many stones have been pillaged from Stonehenge over the centuries including 29 bluestones, 31 sarsen stones and around 34 avenue stones.


9. In AD54, the emperor Claudius ordered the total abolition of what he called "the barbarous and inhuman religion of the Druids in Gaul", and this suppression spread to Britain.


10. In 1978, the Department of the Environment restricted public access to Stonehenge for the first time, to limit erosion: 2,000 people an hour were visiting the site during the summer season.