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Where did the lost stones go?

18 December 2013

BBC History magazine (Christmas 2013 edition) (see www.historyextra.com) raises an interesting question on Stonehenge just as the new Visitor Centre opens (18th December). Archaeologist Mike Pitts suggests Stonehenge would have been known about for miles around, even on the continent, going back to the third millennium BC. This means it would have attracted lots of visitors – throughout the ages. Yet, some time between 2500BC and AD1500 500 tonnes of stone was removed from the site. Where did it all go?

However, we are talking about a period of 4000 years, but surely trophy hunters could not have taken so much stone even across that span of time. Archaeologists know it was there because excavations and geophysics indicate so. Who took away all the stone? One theory is that Roman engineers set about dismantling the site – but this is contradicted by the fact the Romans and their subjects were among the most eager people to visit the site, going by the amount of Roman period artifacts found there.

What caused the lintels at Stonehenge to fall down? Again, the Romans have been regarded as the villains – but what about an earthquake? Even if that was the case somebody spirited away the stones.

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