Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Giant’s Ring, Pierres Gros d’Ierlande

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, north of Salisbury. Stonehenge is one of the most iconic and mysterious archaeological sites in the world, and it has been the subject of numerous legends, myths, and theories throughout history.

Age and Construction
Stonehenge’s construction began over 4,000 years ago, with the earliest earthworks dating back to around 3100 BC. The stone circle was erected over several phases, with the most recognizable stone settings added around 2500 BC.

The monument consists of large standing stones (megaliths) arranged in a circular formation with horizontal lintels. The primary stone circle is approximately 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter.

Aubrey Holes, Bluestones, and Sarsen Stones
Within the circular arrangement are a series of Aubrey Holes, which contained cremated human remains. The original bluestones, which were transported from Wales, are thought to have been arranged in the inner circle. The larger sarsen stones, which make up the outer circle and the trilithons (two vertical stones supporting a horizontal lintel), are locally sourced sandstones blocks. These massive stones weigh several tons each.

Purpose and Function
The purpose of Stonehenge has been the subject of much speculation and research. It is believed to have had various functions, including as an astronomical observatory, a ceremonical site, and possibly a burial ground.

Its alignment with the solstices and equineoxes suggests an astronomical significance, which has led to speculation that it was used for healing rituals or a ceremonial site by the ancient Druids, a group of Celtic religious leaders. However, there is limited historical evidence to support this theory. The Druids, of course, are supposed to have used oak groves, which suggests they did not erect many permanent structures. Some of the forests with “perilous” or “magical” properties originally may have been Druid holy places. Modern archaeologists believe that Stonehenge far antedates the Druids.

In more recent time, Stonehenge has been associated with theories involving ley lines – hypothetical lines connecting significant sites – and concepts of earth energy ponts. Some New Age and alternative spirituality beliefs connect Stonehenge to these ideas.

Stonehenge in Arthurian Legend

King Arthur and Stonehenge is another legend developed by the twelfth-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth in his work entitled the History of the Kings of Britain. We are told Merlin brought the stones to Salisbury Plain from Ireland after a massacre of 460 British noblemen by the treacherous Saxon leader Hengist in the fifth-century. King Aurelius Ambrosius wanted a monument to all the dead men.

Merlin suggested the moving of the stone circle Giant’s Ring from Ireland to Britain. Yet Monmouth informs us that the stones were originally brought to Ireland from Africa by giants and located on Mount Killaraus where they were used at the site for performing rituals and healing. King Uther along with his men and Merlin arrived in Ireland but did not have the strength to move the collection of huge stones. Merlin interceded and used his magical arts to manoeuvre the stones, and then they were shipped back to Britain. The stones were then reassembled again into a great circle around the mass grave of the noblemen.

We are also informed by Monmouth that Aurelius, Uther and Arthur’s successor, Constantine were later also buried there.

See also
Giant’s Dance | The Legend of King Arthur
Stone Circle | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Prose Merlin | Early 13th century