Friday, July 25, 2014

The Spectacular Spectacle

Thousands of years ago, they were here. Watching. Waiting. Planning. Just who were these mystical people? The druids. What they left behind is a marvel.

Stonehenge. Just one word sends a chill down my spine. This is somewhere that I have always dreamed of going for as long as I can remember. But what was this arrangement of rocks for?

Well, in ancient times, this would have been a spectacle. This would have been something even the druids would find amazing. They charted the stars and used it to know when the seasons would occur. This helped the farmers with planting their crops and predicting the seasons. This was a long time in the making though. It took a span of about 1,500 years for Stonehenge, as we know it today, to have been created. 

Just how did this spectacular spectacle come into play? Well, that is a long process that the druids would have to figure out themselves. First, they had to find a piece of land and create ditches, banks, and holes. This was left alone for about 1,000 years. 

Then, they would need to transport some smaller bluestones they found in Wales all the way to where they are now, about 240 miles away! Just how would they do that? They would strap the stones to wooden "wheels" and roll them across the land. This feat in itself is mind boggling to me! This is a lot of effort put into making a circle of rocks.

Then, they would need to go back and get the larger stones you see surrounding the bluestones. This would have taken hundreds of men to move. This is a feat all on its own.

Finally, the druids arranged the stones in the shape we see today. Together, this took over a thousand years! But why would they go to all of this trouble?

This is what makes Stonehenge so mystical. Just what was its purpose? Was it for religious purposes? Was it for sacred sacrifices? Was it all the rage to have a group of stones in ancient times? Scientists may never know. However, they do know one thing. The stones help to accurately depict the solstice and equinox, even today. During the summer solstice, the sun rises right over the Heel Stone and shines in the middle of the formation. During the winter solstice, the sun sets between the largest stones. This would have let the farmers know what time of year it was and they could plan their crops accordingly. 

Heel Stone
All of this is just amazing! This was specially arranged to help a community thrive. These are very similar to buildings we see today. Today, grocery stores help get people food, pharmacies help people to feel better, and houses help to give people a place to stay. Stonehenge doesn't necessarily fulfill these needs, but it would have played an important role in that community. It let people know how to fluctuate their schedules to match the seasons. 

This is just so important to understand. Thousands of years ago, there were no computers to let you know the weather automatically. There weren't trucks to transport food thousands of miles to feed millions of people. The druids, and other people from ancient times, had to use observations to figure out the world. That is what makes Stonehenge so spectacular. People used their own wit and reasoning skills to understand what they were seeing. 

Humans have always had a craving to understand the world around them. Stonehenge helps to remind us that we are all capable of incredible things. With just a little motivation and elbow grease, we can all work to make this world into something more.

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