Its construction is dated to approximately the 49th century B.C., and it seems to have remained in use until about the 47th century B.C. It may thus be the oldest and best known of the circular enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. Currently, the site is presented officially by the state archaeologists and the local association that looks after it as a ritual or cult structure.
The circle consists of a concentric ditch 75 metres (246 feet) across and two palisade rings containing entrances in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the winter solstice days and smaller entrances aligned with the summer solstice. Marketing materials have described it as one of the oldest "Solar observatories" in the world, but sunrise and sunset during winter and summer solstices are the only evident astronomical alignments emphasized in the remains of the structure.
The existence of the site was made public in August 2003, and it was opened for visitors in December 2005.
A view inside the reconstructed wooden palisade of the circle
Location in Germany
|Founded||ca. 4900 B.C.|
The site is located on farmland near Goseck, in the Burgenlandkreis of Saxony-Anhalt, between Naumburg and Weißenfels. The circle sits on a piece of land that gradually rises toward the south, not far from where the Unstrut flows into the Saale, at the border of the region known as Leipzig Bay.
The circle was discovered in 1991 by Otto Braasch on an aerial survey photograph that showed circular ridges under a wheat field. The cropmarks were easy to see in a season of drought. The structure's visibility also indicated an advanced state of erosion.
To preserve the endangered remains, the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt decided to conduct an excavation. It cooperated with the Institute for Prehistocric Archaeology of the University of Halle-Wittenberg.
François Bertemes and Peter Biehl began a major excavation of the site in 2002. When archaeologists combined the evidence with GPS observations, they noticed that the two southern openings marked the sunrise and sunset of the winter and summer solstices.
Radiocarbon dating places the construction of the site close to 4900 B.C., while the style of the pottery shards associate it with the stroke-ornamented ware culture of ca. 4700 B.C., suggesting that the site remained in use throughout two or three centuries.
Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as evidence of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual.
Bertemes and Biehl have continued the excavation for a few weeks each year. In 2004, a group from the University of California, Berkeley joined the ongoing dig.
Since the end of the excavation, the site has been reconstructed. Archaeologists and state officials have rebuilt the wooden palisade of the circle using 1,675 oak poles with a height of 2.5 m. Woodworkers worked with hand tools so that the wooden posts would look authentic. The site was opened to the public on 21 December 2005, the day of the winter solstice.
The site is surrounded by a circular v-shaped moat of up to 1.8 m depth. The soil was used to create a rampart on the outside. The diameter of the moat is 75 m, measured from its external border. A double wooden palisade stood inside the moat. No traces of internal buildings were found. Entry to the site was via three symmetrical main entrances to the north, southwest, and southeast. In addition there were small gaps in the palisades allowing access. The moat followed the three main entries outward (see diagram). The entrances in the inner palisade were narrower than those in the outer, which in turn, were narrower than the gap in the moat.
The southwestern and southeastern entrances face the direction of sunset and sunrise around the date of the winter solstice. Two of the smaller breaks in the wall face toward the equivalent direction on the summer solstice.
There is no sign of fire or of other destruction. Why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.
The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Approximately 140 of these structures, known as circular enclosures, have been found. Although they all have unique features, they follow a basic architectural principle. Few of them have been excavated.
In the first opening of this site, state archaeologist Harald Meller called it "a milestone in archaeological research".
Its construction is dated to approximately the 49th century B.C., and it seems to have remained in use until about the 47th century B.C. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of circular enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar solstice alignments.
There has been some debate about whether the site was used to monitor the sun throughout the year or only on specific notable days, and thus about whether calling the site a "solar observatory" is appropriate. Some have suggested the name was adopted primarily for marketing purposes. Archaeologist Ralf Schwarz suggests the structures at the site allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar through calendar calculations.[a]
Some have claimed the sun and its annual calendar played a key role in the rituals performed at the site.
The reconstructed site is open to the public. An information point has been opened at nearby Schloss Goseck, featuring an exhibit and information on the excavations. The site is maintained by the Verein Gosecker Sonnenobservatorium e.V..
The 5th millennium BC spanned the years 5000 through 4001 BC. It saw the spread of agriculture from Western Asia throughout Southern and Central Europe.
Urban cultures in Mesopotamia and Anatolia flourished, developing the wheel. Copper ornaments became more common, marking the beginning of the Chalcolithic. Animal husbandry spread throughout Eurasia, reaching China.
World population growth relaxes after the burst due to the Neolithic Revolution. World population is largely stable, at roughly 40 million, with a slow overall growth rate at roughly 0.03% p.a.Astronomical complex
An astronomical complex or commemorative astronomical complex is a series of man-made structures with an astronomical purpose. It has been used when referring to a group of Megalithic structures that it is claimed show high precision astronomical alignments. For the study of Archaeoastronomy, such complexes of similar structures are required for adequate measurement and calculation to ensure that similar celestial sightlines were intended by the designers. These arrangements have also been known as observational, ceremonial or ritual complexes with importance for the study of prehistoric cultures.
The term has been used in the naming of various series of observatories used for observing the stars in modern times.Ertebølle culture
The Ertebølle culture (ca 5300 BC – 3950 BC) (Danish pronunciation: [ˈæɐ̯təˌpølə]) is the name of a hunter-gatherer and fisher, pottery-making culture dating to the end of the Mesolithic period. The culture was concentrated in Southern Scandinavia, but genetically linked to strongly related cultures in Northern Germany and the Northern Netherlands. It is named after the type site, a location in the small village of Ertebølle on Limfjorden in Danish Jutland. In the 1890s, the National Museum of Denmark excavated heaps of oyster shells there, mixed with mussels, snails, bones and bone, antler and flint artifacts, which were evaluated as kitchen middens (Danish køkkenmødding), or refuse dumps. Accordingly, the culture is less commonly named the Kitchen Midden. As it is approximately identical to the Ellerbek culture of Schleswig-Holstein, the combined name, Ertebølle-Ellerbek is often used. The Ellerbek culture (German Ellerbek Kultur) is named after a type site in Ellerbek, a community on the edge of Kiel, Germany.
In the 1960s and 1970s another closely related culture was found in the (now dry) Noordoostpolder in the Netherlands, near the village Swifterbant and the former island of Urk. Named the Swifterbant culture (5300 – 3400 BC) they show a transition from hunter-gatherer to both animal husbandry, primarily cows and pigs, and cultivation of barley and emmer wheat. During the formative stages contact with nearby Linear Pottery culture settlements in Limburg has been detected. Like the Ertebølle culture, they lived near open water, in this case creeks, riverdunes and bogs along post-glacial banks of the Overijsselse Vecht. Recent excavations show a local continuity going back to (at least) 5600 BC, when burial practices resembled the contemporary gravefields in Denmark and South Sweden "in all details", suggesting only part of a diverse ancestral "Ertebølle"-like heritage was locally continued into the later (Middle Neolithic) Swifterbant tradition (4200 – 3400 BC).
The Ertebølle culture was roughly contemporaneous with the Linear Pottery culture, food-producers whose northernmost border was located just to the south. The Ertebølle did not practice agriculture but it did utilize domestic grain in some capacity, which it must have obtained from the south.
The Ertebølle culture replaced the earlier Kongemose culture of Denmark. It was limited to the north by the Scandinavian Nøstvet and Lihult cultures. It is divided into an early phase ca 5300 BC-ca 4500 BC, and a later phase ca 4500 BC-3950 BC. Shortly after 4100 BC the Ertebølle began to expand along the Baltic coast at least as far as Rügen. Shortly thereafter it was replaced by the Funnelbeaker culture.
In recent years archaeologists have found the acronym EBK most convenient, parallel to LBK for German Linearbandkeramik (Linear Pottery culture) and TRB for German Trichterbecher, Danish Tragtbæger (Funnelbeaker culture) and Dutch trechterbekercultuur. Ostensibly for Ertebølle Kultur, EBK could be either German or Danish and has the added advantage that Ellerbek also begins with E.Goloring
The Goloring is an ancient earthworks monument located near Koblenz, Germany. It was created in the Bronze Age era, which dates back to the Urnfield culture (1200–800 BCE.). During this time a widespread solar cult is believed to have existed in Central Europe.
The Goloring consists of a circular ditch of 175 metres in diameter with an outside embankment extending to 190 metres. Technically this makes the structure a henge monument, although the use of the term henge outside of Britain is sometimes disputed. The outside embankment is approx. 7 metres wide and 80 cm high. The ditch has an upper width of 5–6 metres and is approx. 80 cm deep. In the interior one can find a roughly circular leveled platform, which is about elevated by about 1 metre. The platform has been created based on piled gravelled rock and has a diameter of 95 metres. Remnants of a 50 cm thick wooden post with an estimated height of 8–12 metres were excavated in the middle of this platform.
The design of the ditch is unique in Germany, and makes the earthworks similar to many British monuments of the same era. It is often compared to Stonehenge in England, which has similar diametric proportions.Goseck
Goseck is a municipality lying on the Saale River, in the Burgenlandkreis district of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.Henge
There are three related types of Neolithic earthwork that are all sometimes loosely called henges. The essential characteristic of all three is that they feature a ring-shaped bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank. Because the internal ditches would have served defensive purposes poorly, henges are not considered to have been defensive constructions (cf. circular rampart). The three henge types are as follows, with the figure in brackets being the approximate diameter of the central flat area:
Henge (> 20 m). The word henge refers to a particular type of earthwork of the Neolithic period, typically consisting of a roughly circular or oval-shaped bank with an internal ditch surrounding a central flat area of more than 20 m (66 ft) in diameter. There is typically little if any evidence of occupation in a henge, although they may contain ritual structures such as stone circles, timber circles and coves. Henge monument is sometimes used as a synonym for henge. Henges sometimes, but by no means always, featured stone or timber circles, and circle henge is sometimes used to describe these structures. The three largest stone circles in Britain (Avebury, the Great Circle at Stanton Drew stone circles and the Ring of Brodgar) are each in a henge. Examples of henges without significant internal monuments are the three henges of Thornborough Henges. Although having given its name to the word henge, Stonehenge is atypical in that the ditch is outside the main earthwork bank.
Hengiform monument (5 – 20 m). Like an ordinary henge except the central flat area is between 5 and 20 m (16–66 ft) in diameter, they comprise a modest earthwork with a fairly wide outer bank. Mini henge or Dorchester henge are sometimes used as synonyms for hengiform monument. An example is the Neolithic site at Wormy Hillock Henge.
Henge enclosure (> 300 m). A Neolithic ring earthwork with the ditch inside the bank, with the central flat area having abundant evidence of occupation and usually being more than 300 m (980 ft) in diameter. Some true henges are as large as this (e.g., Avebury), but lack evidence of domestic occupation. Super henge is sometimes used as a synonym for a henge enclosure. However, sometimes Super henge is used to indicate size alone rather than use, e.g. "Marden henge ... is the least understood of the four British 'superhenges' (the others being Avebury, Durrington Walls and Mount Pleasant Henge)".History of astronomy
Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity, with its origins in the religious, mythological, cosmological, calendrical, and astrological beliefs and practices of prehistory: vestiges of these are still found in astrology, a discipline long interwoven with public and governmental astronomy. It was not completely separated in Europe (see astrology and astronomy) during the Copernican Revolution starting in 1543. In some cultures, astronomical data was used for astrological prognostication.
Ancient astronomers were able to differentiate between stars and planets, as stars remain relatively fixed over the centuries while planets will move an appreciable amount during a comparatively short time.Karsdorf remains
The Kardorf remains are the bodies of more than 30 Neolithic humans who were buried in the vicinity of Karsdorf, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany.
Two males, known as KAR6 (or I0795) and KAR16a (I0797), have been of great interest to scholars as the subject of successful Y-DNA analysis. Both have been found to belong to subclades of Y-DNA Haplogroup T1, which is rare in modern populations. These ancient specimens' mtDNA haplogroups have been found to be H1* (H1au1b) and H46b. Their autosomal ancestral components also consist of around 70% "Western European Hunter-Gatherer" (WHG) and 30% "Basal Eurasian". Both men lived 7500–6800 BP and belonged to the Linienbandkeramische Kultur ("Linear band pottery culture"; LBK).Linear Pottery culture
The Linear Pottery culture is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing c. 5500–4500 BC. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), and is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe.
The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe. The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases, and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases, and necks.Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn, and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; and Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe.
Two variants of the early Linear Pottery culture are recognized:
The Early or Western Linear Pottery Culture developed on the middle Danube, including western Hungary, and was carried down the Rhine, Elbe, Oder, and Vistula.
The Eastern Linear Pottery Culture flourished in eastern Hungary.Middle and late phases are also defined. In the middle phase, the Early Linear Pottery culture intruded upon the Bug-Dniester culture and began to manufacture musical note pottery. In the late phase, the Stroked Pottery culture moved down the Vistula and Elbe.
A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but without a one-to-one correspondence between its variants and the replacing cultures. The culture map, instead, is complex. Some of the successor cultures are the Hinkelstein, Großgartach, Rössen, Lengyel, Cucuteni-Trypillian, and Boian-Maritza cultures.List of archaeoastronomical sites by country
This is a list of sites where claims for the use of archaeoastronomy have been made, sorted by country.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) jointly published a thematic study on heritage sites of astronomy and archaeoastronomy to be used as a guide to UNESCO in its evaluation of the cultural importance of archaeoastronomical sites around the world, which discussed sample sites and provided categories for the classification of archaeoastronomical sites. The editors, Clive Ruggles and Michel Cotte, proposed that archaeoastronomical sites be considered in four categories: 1) Generally accepted; 2) Debated among specialists; 3) Unproven; and 4) Completely refuted.Nabta Playa
Nabta Playa was once a large internally drained basin in the Nubian Desert, located approximately 800 kilometers south of modern-day Cairo or about 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, 22.51° north, 30.73° east. Today the region is characterized by numerous archaeological sites. The Nabta Playa archaeological site, one of the earliest of the Egyptian Neolithic Period, is dated to circa 7500 BC.Nebra sky disk
The Nebra sky disk is a bronze disk of around 30 centimeters (12 in) diameter and a weight of 2.2 kilograms (4.9 lb), with a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These are interpreted generally as a sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster interpreted as the Pleiades). Two golden arcs along the sides, marking the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom surrounded with multiple strokes (of uncertain meaning, variously interpreted as a Solar Barge with numerous oars, as the Milky Way, or as a rainbow).
The disk is attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, in Germany, and associatively dated to c. 1600 BC. It has been associated with the Bronze Age Unetice culture.
The style in which the disk is executed was unlike any artistic style then known from the period, with the result that the object was initially suspected of being a forgery, but it is now widely accepted as authentic.
The Nebra sky disk features the oldest concrete depiction of the cosmos yet known from anywhere in the world. In June 2013 it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and termed "one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century."Neolithic
The Neolithic ( (listen), also known as the "New Stone Age"), the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world.
The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago (4500 BC), marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world (including the New World) remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.The Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.The term Neolithic derives from the Greek νέος néos, "new" and λίθος líthos, "stone", literally meaning "New Stone Age". The term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system.Neolithic circular enclosures in Central Europe
Approximately 120–150 Neolithic earthworks enclosures are known in Central Europe.
They are called Kreisgrabenanlagen ("circular ditched enclosures") in German, or alternatively as roundels (or "rondels"; German Rondelle; sometimes also "rondeloid", since many are not even approximately circular). They are mostly confined to the Elbe and Danube basins, in modern-day Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, as well as the adjacent parts of Hungary and Poland, in a stretch of Central European land some 800 km (500 mi) across.
They date to the first half of the 5th millennium BC; they are associated with the late Linear Pottery culture and its local successors, the Stroke-ornamented ware (Middle Danubian) and Lengyel (Moravian Painted Ware) cultures. The best known and oldest of these Circular Enclosures is the Goseck circle, constructed c. 4900 BC.
Only a few examples approximate a circular form; the majority are only very approximately circular or elliptic. One example at Meisternthal is an exact ellipse with identifiable focal points.
The distribution of these structures seems to suggest a spread from the middle Danube (southern Slovakia and western Hungary) towards the west (Lower Austria, Lower Bavaria) along the Danube and to the northwest (Moravia, Bohemia, Saxony-Anhalt) following the Elbe.
They precede the comparable circular earthwork or timber enclosures known from Great Britain and Ireland, constructed much later during c. 3000 to 1000 BC (late Neolithic to Bronze Age).
But, by contrast to the long lifetime of the "Megalithic" culture, the time window during which the
neolithic Roundels were in use is surprisingly narrow, lasting only for about 200–300 years (roughly 49th to 47th centuries BC).The earliest roundel to be described was the one at Krpy (Kropáčova Vrutice), Bohemia, by Woldřich 1886, but it was only with systematic aerial survey in the 1980s and the 1990s that their ubiquity in the region became apparent.
Three types have been distinguished:
two semicircular ditches forming a circle and separated by causeways at opposing entrances.
multiple circuits of ditches interrupted with entrances at cardinal or astronomically-oriented points and also having an internal single or double timber palisade.
a single ring ditch.The structures are mostly interpreted as having served a cultic purpose.
Most of them are aligned and seem to have served the function of a calendar (Kalenderbau), in the context of archaeoastronomy sometimes dubbed "observatory", with openings aligned with the points sunrise and/or sunset at the solstices. This is the case with the "gates" or openings of the roundels of Quenstedt, Goseck and Quedlinburg.
The observational determination of the time of solstice would not have served a practical (agricultural) purpose, but could have been used to maintain a lunisolar calendar (i.e. knowledge of the date of solstice allows an accurate handling of intercalary months).Known Circular Enclosures:
in Slovakia (Ivan Kuzma 2004): about 50 candidate sites from aerial surveys, not all of which are expected to date to the Neolithic. There are 15 known neolithic (Lengyel) sites. The largest of these are (with outer diameters of more than 100 m): Svodín 2 (140 m), Demandice (120 m), Bajtava (175 m), Horné Otrokovce (150 m), Podhorany-Mechenice (120 m), Cífer 127 m, Golianovo (210 m), Žitavce (145 m), Hosťovce (250–300 m), Prašník (175 m). others: Borovce, Bučany, Golianovo, Kľačany, Milanovce, Nitrianský Hrádok, Ružindol-Borová
in Hungary: Aszód, Polgár-Csőszhalom, Sé, Vokány, Szemely-Hegyes
in the Czech Republic (Jaroslav Ridky 2004): 15 known sites, all dated to the late Stroked pottery (Stk IVA). Běhařovice, Borkovany, Bulhary, Krpy, Křepice, Mašovice, Němčičky, Rašovice, Těšetice, Vedrovice
in Austria (Doneus et al. 2004): 47 known sites with diameters between 40 and 180 m. Lower Austria: Asparn an der Zaya, Altruppersdorf, Altruppersdorf, Au am Leithagebirge, Friebritz (2 sites), Gauderndorf, Glaubendorf (2 sites), Gnadendorf, Göllersdorf, Herzogbirbaum, Hornsburg, Immendorf, Kamegg, Karnabrunn, Kleedorf, Kleinrötz, Michelstetten, Moosbierbaum, Mühlbach am Manhartsberg, Oberthern, Perchtoldsdorf, Plank am Kamp, Porrau, Pottenbrunn, Pranhartsberg, Puch, Rosenburg, Schletz, Simonsfeld, Statzendorf, Steinabrunn, Stiefern, Straß im Straßertale, Strögen, Velm, Wetzleinsdorf, Wilhelmsdorf, Winden, Würnitz. Upper Austria: Ölkam.
Bodzów, Rąpice 
Pietrowice Wielkie (Śląsk)
Nowe Objezierze (Pomorze)
Drzemlikowice (Dolny Śląsk)
Saxony Anhalt (Ralf Schwarz 2004): Quenstedt, Goseck, Kötschlitz, Quedlinburg, outer diameters between 72 and 110 m.
Saxony: Dresden-Nickern (3 sites), Eythra (2 sites), Neukyhna (3 sites)
Bavaria: Lower Bavaria: Eching-Viecht, Künzing-Unternberg, Meisternthal, Moosburg an der Isar-Kirchamper, Oberpöring-Gneiding, Osterhofen-Schmiedorf (2 sites), Stephansposching Wallerfing-Ramsdorf, Zeholfing-Kothingeichendorf; Upper Bavaria: Penzberg
Nordrhein-Westfalen: Borchum-Harpen, Warburg-Daseburg
Franconia: Hopferstadt, Ippesheim
Brandenburg: Bochow, Quappendorf
An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geophysical, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed. Historically, observatories were as simple as containing an astronomical sextant (for measuring the distance between stars) or Stonehenge (which has some alignments on astronomical phenomena).Prehistoric religion
Prehistoric religions are the religious beliefs and practices of prehistoric peoples. The term may cover Paleolithic religion, Mesolithic religion, Neolithic religion and Bronze Age religions.Pömmelte
Pömmelte is a village and a former municipality in the district Salzlandkreis, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Since 1 January 2010, it is part of the town Barby. The modern settlement is first documented in 1292 and probably was founded not too long before, probably by Sorbian settlers.
During the Bronze Age, around the late third millennium BC, it was the site of an astronomical observatory with a function similar to Stonehenge, built in a wooden construction. It probably was a ritual center, without a permanent settlement. With radiocarbon dates indicating 2300 B.C. for what appears to be the earliest phase of the ritual center, speculation among anthropologists in 2018 is considering recognition of a cultural tie broadly throughout Europe and the British Isles associating the traditions from which these structures arose to those much earlier, in places such as such as the 7000-year-old Goseck circle in Germany.Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, two miles (3 km) west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, seven feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BC.One of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon. It has been a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882 when legislation to protect historic monuments was first successfully introduced in Britain. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage; the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. Deposits containing human bone date from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug, and continued for at least another five hundred years.Winter solstice
The winter solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice, also known as midwinter, occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice. Its opposite is the summer solstice.
The winter solstice occurs during the hemisphere's winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the December solstice (usually 21 or 22 December) and in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the June solstice (usually 20 or 21 June). Although the winter solstice itself lasts only a moment, the term sometimes refers to the day on which it occurs. Other names are "midwinter", the "extreme of winter" (Dongzhi), or the "shortest day". Traditionally, in many temperate regions, the winter solstice is seen as the middle of winter, but today in some countries and calendars, it is seen as the beginning of winter. In meteorology, winter is reckoned as beginning about three weeks before the winter solstice.Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. It marked the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.
Seasonal lag is the term relating the lag shift between the coldest winter weather and the winter solstice. As latitude increases, midwinter correlates more closely with the winter solstice.