The Mystery of Stonehenge
What is Stonehenge, exactly? Looks like a pile of big stones, right? In fact, this strange structure is older than some of the Great Pyramids and full of mysteries. Who built it? How did they raise such heavy rocks without modern equipment? How was the site used? And were any aliens involved? Find out today, as we travel across the Atlantic to England to explore this mysterious rock formation and more.
Ask About Today
Why did ancient people make such a big deal out of the summer and winter solstices? For instance, historians believe that big celebrations were held at Stonehenge each December on the shortest day of the year. Why celebrate a short day?
If you could build a monument that would last thousands of years, what would it be? And how would future civilizations understand it?
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What do historians know about Stonehenge? And what mysteries remain?
Start with this short animated video about how scientists cracked the mystery of Stonehenge, from Infographic Kids.
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
Ghosts of Stonehenge
Move on to this longer PBS documentary to follow an archeologist whose groundbreaking work offers clues about the builders, what motivated them, and how they lived. Perhaps most importantly, he seeks to understand what happened to the people who built Stonehenge and why it fell into ruin.
Stonehenge is one of the most famous places on Earth and has been studied carefully for hundreds of years. But did you know that we are still learning surprising and significant things about it all the time? Just this summer, scientists announced the discovery of a giant ring of very deep holes near Stonehenge. What were they used for?
Stonehenge was carefully designed to align with the movement of the sun. Special stones marked the sunrise on the longest day of the year and the sunset on the shortest day. Before the invention of clocks, the sun’s regular patterns were essential for timekeeping. Believe it or not, we can still use the sun that way today.
Build a Sundial
To test this out, try building a sundial of your own, with help from Scientific American. Then test your sundial for accuracy. After a few hours, check your sundial to estimate what time it is. (Don’t peek at the clock first!) How close did you get?
For younger explorers
Watch this short video from the Adler Planetarium to help you make your sundial.
Perhaps because of the mystery surrounding Stonehenge, it has been the subject of many wild—and wildly inaccurate—theories over the years, including that the stones were placed by aliens. But that’s hardly the only historical myth floating around.
Here are 14 historical "facts" that are actually fiction. (Get this: the Vikings didn’t really wear helmets with horns!)
For younger explorers
Stonehenge is a huge manmade circle of giant standing stones. It’s one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments and is very mysterious. How did the giant stones get there? What are they for?
The summer solstice is coming in just a few weeks, on June 20. The solstice was important to the builders of Stonehenge because as the longest day of the year, it’s also the day with the most sunlight. Let's celebrate!
Visit the Online Almanac
Since 1792, The Old Farmer's Almanac has helped people plan ahead by predicting the phases of the moon, sunrises and sunsets, the tides, weather forecasts, and more. Today, it's all online. Find out exactly what time the sun officially sets in your neighborhood by entering your zip code.
Next, plan something special for sunset tonight. Maybe you can find a spot to watch the sun as it goes down with your family. Try counting down as it disappears. If you can’t see the sunset from your home, plan something else to make the most of the extra daylight: How about a picnic dinner on the front steps, or a pre-bedtime neighborhood stroll? Just imagine how much shorter the days will be in December (or don’t, because it’s kind of depressing).
Stonehenge is British, so today let's have a British workout.
What's a British workout, you might ask? It's a workout with Joe, our favorite PE teacher. Each day, he leads a fun, simple 20-minute workout. Get moving!
more to explore
Obsessed with all things Stonehenge? Explore some more!
Draw Your Own
Take a look at this simple tutorial by an art teacher and then draw your own version of Stonehenge.
Do you like math? Recent studies suggest that the builders of Stonehenge had an incredibly advanced understanding of geometry—and perhaps they were even using the Pythagorean Theorem 2,000 years before Pythagoras was born!