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Stonehenge: Historical and Etymological Aspects
Buildings & Landmarks
"A long time ago some people stuck some very big rocks in the ground and piled others on top of them. Many other people have spent a lot of time guessing how and why they did it and inventing big words to describe their speculations. What fun!"
15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit
As you drive through the swirling mists of the Salisbury plain, the trailers of mist part and you gape incredulously at the glorious tableau. An ancient henge encloses enormous orthostats and colossal trilithons of heathen sarsen and shadowy dolerite. "Stonehenge..." you breathe in an awed whisper.
"Large rocks stuck in the sod," observes your more prosaic companion, "for no good reason that I can think of. Besides, technically, some would claim Stonehenge isn't even a henge, you know."
So, technically, what's a henge?
A circular prehistoric structure consisting of large stones set upright
A round or oval bank with an interior ditch
A stone manufactured from volcanic and calcareous ash
A place of burning (for sacrifices)
By the Middle Ages, the abandoned and mysterious stone formation in the sheep pastures of the Salisbury plain were known as "Stanenges". The two components of the name "Stonehenge" mean literally "stone hanging". It is not known for certain why the stone formation came to be given that name. The resemblance of monument stones to which of the following is the basis for one proposed explanation of the name?
The face of a man
You're taking a Stonehenge guided tour. You keep hearing technical terms, the meanings of which you are not entirely sure. You keep seeing big rocks. Which of the following means "big rock"?
Your Stonehenge guide points out the two varieties of stone present at the site. He mentions that an estimated eighty bluestones came from Wales, 250 miles away. The guide waxes eloquent about the difficulties involved in transporting and erecting the stone, seemingly unaware that Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain", written in the early 12th century explained how it happened. What account did Geoffrey give?
Druids forced slaves to carry the stones to the site where the druids utilized their magical arts to raise them
Roman Legions brought the stones on the backs of elephants and erected them utilizing machinery designed by Archimedes
Merlin brought the stones from Ireland and erected them by means of his "wondrous art"
Joseph of Aramithea miraculously raised the stones from a well in Glastonbury
Surprisingly, your Stonehenge guide mocks Geoffrey's account of the transport of the bluestones. "So, you think it was the Druids," you ask innocently. What role did Druids play in the construction of Stonehenge according to current archeological opinion?
The Druiditic priesthood supervised all phases of construction.
Although the Beaker People constructed the bank and ditch, the stone work was of later druidic origin.
The Celtic druids, who did not appear in Britain until more than 1000 years after the last Stonehenge building phase, played no role.
Peaceful agrarian Neolithic farmers put the first set of stones in place. Druids later erected the second for use in their monstrous blood sacrifices.
Which of the following transport mechanisms have been proposed in modern times to account for the presence of stones from Wales in Stonehenge?
All of them
In 2001 experimental archaeologists attempted to duplicate the feat of transporting a large stone from Wales to Stonehenge utilizing methods and equipment that would have been available to the original builders. What is the most compelling reason to consider their experiment a failure?
The forests that would have impeded then progress of the original builders no longer existed.
The stone was marginally smaller than those used in the construction of Stonehenge.
The stone sank while being carried in a replica of a prehistoric boat.
Modern tools were used in building prehistoric replicas.
As you tour Stonehenge, your guide draws you attention to white discs distributed around the periphery of the circle. He explains that the discs mark "Aubrey" holes. He mentions that according to the most accepted theory, these approximately three foot diameter holes (some of which have been found to contain human remains) were dug over 4000 years ago. What explanation does he give for the name of the holes?
They were named after John Aubrey, who probably didn't discover them.
Aubrey derives from the Latin "albus", and the holes were excavated in the white chalk of the Salisbury plain.
Aubrey means "elf rules", and folktales indicate the holes have elvish origins.
The holes were named after Aubrey the Mad who dug them and filled them with his enemy's bones.
"People screaming, black smoke towering out of burning caravans and everywhere there seemed to be people being bashed and flattened and pulled by the hair....men, women and children were led away, shivering, swearing, crying, bleeding..." Such was the description of the "Battle of the Beanfield", when a caravan traveling to celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge was turned back. In what year did the "Battle of the Beanfield occur?"
What would be the most foolproof method for having an opportunity to touch one of the stones while visiting Stonehenge?
Jump the boundary rope and make a dash for the stones.
Simply make a request to English Heritage personnel that you be allowed to "get up close and personal" at the time of your visit during regular visiting hours.
Arrange for "Private Access" before or after usual visiting hours through English Heritage.
Bribe a security guard.
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Compiled Apr 16 13