THE MYSTERIOUS MONUMENT
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THE MYSTERIOUS MONUMENT book
Of those great and ancient mysteries that lie at the foundation of the British consciousness, Stonehenge is the greatest, most ancient and most mysterious, a kind of omphalos or earth-navel. It has always held a special position in our culture because a hundred and fifty generations of people have regarded it, sometimes with shame or resentment but more often with awe and admiration, as the beginning of our national heritage. In one of the earliest written records of Stonehenge, in the twelfth century, Henry of Huntingdon named it as one of the wonders of Britain. In the third millennium BC, when it was newly built, it was held in similarly high regard, as we can tell from the extraordinary concentration of neolithic monuments aggregating round it; it was the focal point of the densest concentration of ceremonial structures to be found anywhere in Britain and it remained the centre of intense ritual activity for two thousand years.