Stonehenge has stood on Salisbury Plain in southern England for perhaps 5000 years and has been an object of wonder and mystery for almost as long.
A burial monument, it’s at the centre of a vast network of gravesites and similarly sacred loci. It’s also a site of astronomical significance, aligned with the rising sun of the summer solstice, the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise, and was possibly used as a kind of Neolithic observatory, the position of its towering standing stones helping primitive stargazers map the skies. Or perhaps it was a kind of hospital, as yet another theory suggests, the numerous burial mounds around it the final resting place of those who ancient medicine could not help.
In truth, nobody knows; the culture that raised Stonehenge left no written records, and construction seems to have taken place in three different stages over the years. Piecing together the monument’s exact origins and purposes has been a painstaking project. Even the popular notion that the Druids, the venerated religious class of ancient Celtic society, built it is demonstrably false: Stonehenge’s early construction predates the Celts’ arrival in the British Isles by 2000 years. But a new documentary shows that investigations into the sacred site are ongoing, and still as fascinating as ever.