Mystery May

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.09

     challenging words:    astronomical, bluestone, bluestones, certainty, concentric, horseshoe-like, lintel, manpower, re-arranged, sarsen, scant, spanned, sun-worshipers, trilithon, trilithons, unsolved
     content words:    Salisbury Plain, Aubrey Holes, John Aubrey, Prescelli Mountains, River Avon, Marlborough Downs, Sir Cecil Chubb, English Heritage, United Nations, World Heritage List

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By Vickie Chao

1     On the Salisbury Plain, in southern England, there stands a cluster of huge stones. This cluster of huge stones is called Stonehenge. For centuries, people from places both far and near have come to admire it. Whoever has seen it has marveled at its beauty. Yet, they wonder what it was for. Many people have tried to figure it out. But so far, nobody has. Even today, we still know very little about it. Of the scant information we have, we can only say with any certainty that the construction occurred over three phases. From the beginning to the end, it spanned more than 1,400 years.
2     The first phase of Stonehenge took place around 3100 B.C. The initial design had a circular ditch and bank with two entrances. One was to the northeast. The other was to the south. The entire area was about 330 feet in diameter. Inside the circle, there were 56 holes dug neatly along the edge. Those holes are commonly known as the Aubrey Holes. They were named after John Aubrey. He discovered them in about 1666. Scientists believe that the holes were actually pits for timbers. They were not meant to hold up stones. As a matter of fact, during the first phase of Stonehenge, there was no stone used at all!
3     The second phase of Stonehenge occurred around 2500 B.C. For reasons unknown to us, the entire structure was pretty much torn down and rebuilt again. This time, bluestones replaced timbers. The bluestones used for this new and improved Stonehenge came from the Prescelli Mountains in Wales, about 240 miles away. Each bluestone weighed nearly 5 tons. To transport them to the construction site, the builders dragged the bluestones to the seashore. They put them on rafts and brought them up the River Avon. The last leg of the journey, from the riverbank to where Stonehenge stands today, required sheer manpower. All told, the builders brought nearly 80 bluestones from Wales. They dug the so-called Q and R Holes to arrange the bluestones in two upright, concentric circles.

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