Around 5,000 years ago, ancient people began construction on the world’s most famous Neolithic monument. Stonehenge, as it would come to be known, has been a mystery ever since. Whoever built it left no written record and few clues behind for us to piece together this ancient puzzle.
It goes without saying that the mystery and intrigue behind Stonehenge have thrown up some interesting theories over the centuries as to how it was built, who built it and why it was built – some more plausible than others.
However, we’re not interested in science and research in this article – let’s go ahead and look at the most outlandish theories behind Stonehenge!
A giant built it
Early historians were heavily influenced by folktales to explain the unexplainable. The particular legend tied to Stonehenge claims that the fictional wizard of Arthurian legend, Merlin, had a giant build the structure for him. Why exactly the giant agreed, or what was in it for him, isn’t clear. What is clear, however, is that Geoffrey of Monmouth was a big believer in this theory, which gained some traction in the 14th century.
It was an ancient team-building exercise
We’ve all been there – dragging ourselves to fancy corporate events filled with tedious team-building exercises. We thought the modern-day equivalent was bad enough, but then we realised we’d never been asked to drag 25-ton stones 30 miles over land. This theory suggests the construction of Stonehenge was a show of unity from a previously disparate group of Neolithic peoples of Britain who decided to get together and build a henge made of giant sarsen stones – as you do.
It was an ancient health spa
Whilst not as outlandish as other theories (it has some support in academic circles) we frankly find this one hard to believe. As the theory goes, the bluestones at the centre of Stonehenge were venerated for their healing and magical properties as they came from a site in Wales in close proximity to traditional healing springs. People travelled from miles round to chip parts of the bluestone off to make amulets to carry around with them. Our only question: why couldn’t they go to the stones?
Aliens did it
No conspiracy list would be complete without aliens appearing somewhere along the line. As it goes, Aliens are alleged to have provided the technology to build Stonehenge, how else could a society that hadn’t even heard of the wheel build something like this?
It was the Druids
We’ll start this off with a commonly accepted fact: Stonehenge predates Druids by about 2,000 years. Ok, let’s carry on. In the 17th century, John Aubrey and William Stukeley declared Stonehenge the work of Druids, who constructed it as a temple to their false idols. However, it wasn’t all bad; Aubrey went on to contribute the first measured drawings of Stonehenge and prove an astronomical role in the stones’ placement.
It’s a Neolithic sex symbol
In 2003, a single, solitary researcher from the University of British Columbia claimed Stonehenge was an ancient sex symbol intentionally constructed to look like the female sexual organ as a celebration of ‘Mother Earth’. Dr Perks went on to say:
“If ideas of Earth Mother originated with, or were shared by, the people of the henge, Stonehenge could represent, symbolically, the opening by which Earth Mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which the ancient people so depended”.
This one requires more than a bit of squinting.
For more information on Stonehenge, including answers to why and how it was built, and by whom, check out our Stonehenge guide.
Interested in visiting Stonehenge? Check out our collection of Stonehenge tours from London. We have a fantastic selection of full-day and half-day tours, all of which travel from Central London. Learn more about the real history behind this world-famous monument with our expert tour guides.