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17Feb

When is a henge not a henge? When it's Stonehenge

The standing stones at Avebury and the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney are henges, but it is generally agreed that Stonehenge is not. But why?

In archeological news, researchers have recently unearthed evidence to suggest that Stonehenge was originally built in Wales, before being taken and re-erected at its present site in Wiltshire. But what is a “henge” anyway?

Since “henge” was an old English word for “hang”, it is thought that the place name “Stonehenge” meant “the hanging stones”, ie the lintel pieces suspended across two columns. In 1932 the British archaeologist Sir Thomas Downing Kendrick proposed the back formation “henge” to describe any such neolithic monument in a circular or oval earthen enclosure, including Woodhenge, a site discovered in 1926 where concentric rings of timber poles were once erected, for reasons still uncertain.

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