4000 BC to 1500 BC Stone Age man and the first farmers

white horse at uffington
  The White Horse at Uffington

This covers the period from the coming of man to Britain (around 4000 BC) up to the Norman conquest in 1066. The people left no literature, but they did leave many burial chambers, monuments and artifacts. It is believed that Stone Age man migrated to Britain across the land bridge that then joined Britain to the rest of Europe. The rising water levels cut Britain off from Europe and left these peoples to develop separately and largely unmolested by any large outside tribes or armies.

Stone circles, Neolithic tombs and tools have been found all over the British Isles from the tip of Cornwall in the south to the very north of Scotland. Although stone age artifacts can be found all over Britain, the largest of their construction are found in Wiltshire in southern England.

avebury ring stonehenge
Avebury   Stonehenge

There are smaller sites from this period of history all over the country - if you are interested you need to stop by a good bookshop and get a specialist publication on the area you are interested in.

The two largest sites are:-

Avebury
Not just one, but 4 inter-connected monuments. An Avenue of paired stones connects the henge at Avebury to a smaller henge called the Sanctuary, and nearby Silbury Hill (the largest artificial mound in pre-historic Europe)
 
Stonehenge
Nobody knows what it was built for, perhaps Druid temple or perhaps an astronomical calculator. Work started on it in 3100 BC and it was continuously being built, used and modified until 1100 BC. An amazing period of 2000 years - not many other buildings in the world have been used for as long.
After 1100 BC it fell into disuse, again nobody knows why. The stones on the site were used by the local people as a convenient source for building houses and road making. Even up to 100 years ago, local farmers used the stones from Stonehenge for road building and other construction work.
It was given to the nation in 1918, and the government has been responsible for maintaining the monument since then.
As Britain's only world heritage site, one can see its importance. However there is still a long way to go in presenting the site sympathetically to the visitor
 
 
 
Stone Age man constructed Stonehenge from massive 50 ton blocks of stone. Some were transported along a 240 mile route from the Welsh mountains The photographs above show that each stone had a mortise and tenon joint, so that when in place the stones stayed in place. The people who made Stonehenge had no metal tools!  
     
One hypothesis for Stonehenge's being there, is that it was a giant astronomical observatory. The sun on midsummer's day rises above the heel stone on the horizon, and other lies concerning the sun and moon and their movements can be found  
     
Others believe that it was a druid's temple, or shrine. Whatever interpretation one puts on it, it was a massive and sustained feat to construct and maintain for 2000 years. It is a pity that the site has not been better maintained over the years, but you can still get the feel and majesty of the place. It is worth getting one of the more advanced guide books, which go beyond the superficial britain in pre history  
Go on to next history page - the hill tribes  
   
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