This is Why Stonehenge is Such a Big Deal

Stonehenge engraved by James Malton, England, 1800. Rare Old Prints

19. It’s first mentioned in an archaeological survey from 1130 AD

Stonehenge hasn’t moved in the last 5,000 years, and it’s no surprise to learn that people have been intrigued by it for a very long time. The first reference to it comes from Henry of Huntingdon (c.1088-1157), an English chronicler who was also the first person to use the name ‘stanenges’. In his Historia Anglorum (written 1130-54), Henry lists Stonehenge as one of the four wonders of Britain: ‘the second [wonder] is at Stonehenge, where stones of remarkable size are raised up like gates, in such a way that gates seem to be placed on top of gates’.

Amid his awe for the monument, Henry also gives a brief explanation for why the monument is so remarkable: ‘no one can work out how the stones were so skilfully lifted up to such a height or why they were erected there’. Incredibly, Henry’s words are still apt nearly 900 years later: we still don’t know exactly how the massive stones were erected, or why this place in Wiltshire was chosen. Henry’s account reminds us of the significance of Stonehenge’s great age: it’s intrigued everyone who has ever set foot in Britain, from the Romans to today’s tourists.