The first place I visited while learning English in Bournemouth this Summer was Stonehenge, my beloved subject from plenty of books and articles I had collected at home. One sunny Saturday I took my friend, a map and a camera, and we hitch-hiked those forty miles north. Since there are only shalow hills all around, we saw the gorgeous place already from a long distance.. and one of my dreams was coming true.
Here I am to share it with you.
The most remarkable prehistoric monument and archaelogical site in Great Britain has been standing on Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire for about 5,000 years. Older than the first Egyptian pyramids it has always been surrounded by a mystery coming from the fact, that no one knows exactly who and why has built it. There are many different theories and folk legends full of Celts and their magic priests, the Druids, who used to practise human sacrifice and cannibalism there. It is also a favourite topic of various science-fiction stories which say that Stonehenge was used for storage of terrestrial power, a stone-computer or as a certain sign for an extraterrestrial civilization when they are approaching to the Earth. Some of the stories are pretty silly while the other almost make you believe, as usual.
But the reality probably wasn't any less fantastic.
The scientists say that Stonehenge was a sort of prehistoric calendar and an astronomical observatory. The huge stones weighing several tonnes were placed very precise on certain places so that the constructors could observe the beams of Sun, Moon and the stars by a sophisticated system of holes, station stones and imaginary axises. Such a system allowed to follow not only simple calendar, but also very exact observations of more complicated astronomical phenomena as the equinox, extreme risings and settings of Moon and eclipses of Sun. The use of such knowledge is partly obvious - recognizing the right moments for sowing and harvest, for preparing the stocks for winter and all the other things so important for agrarian societies. We can also presume that the significance of the system was used, as known from ancient Egypt, for religious reasons - simple folks have never got to know how it works and had to believe in their Gods' influence and the priests.
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