A recent study led by researchers at Aberystwyth University in the UK has challenged a century-old theory about Stonehenge. The study focused on the Altar Stone, also known as Stone 80, at Stonehenge and found evidence suggesting that it did not come from the same source as the other stones used in the monument’s construction. While smaller stones at Stonehenge are believed to originate from a source 140 miles away, the Altar Stone appears to be from a quarry much farther away.
The Altar Stone is unique among the bluestones of Stonehenge due to its sandstone composition, which contrasts with the predominantly igneous bluestones that make up the inner circle of Stonehenge. Previous theories suggested that the Altar Stone came from the Old Red Sandstone formation in west Wales, similar to the other bluestones. However, the study’s findings, based on various analyses, including optical petrography and spectroscopy, indicate that the Altar Stone’s barium content and mineralogy distinguish it from other basin and bluestone samples in the Anglo-Welsh Basin. This has raised doubts about its origin in the basin and suggests the need to search for sandstones of a younger age in northern Britain.
The study also challenges the classification of the Altar Stone as a bluestone, breaking its link to the bluestones sourced from the Mynydd Preseli area in West Wales. If correct, this discovery opens up new avenues for investigating the Altar Stone’s origin. Stonehenge has long been a subject of fascination, with various theories about its purpose, including astronomical, ritualistic, and cultural significance. Over its 5,000-year history, it has served as a burial site, a place for sacred healing, and contemplation, and potentially as a gathering place for various traditions. Regardless of its original purpose, Stonehenge continues to captivate people with its sense of wonder and mystery, as well as its role in modern tourism.