Missing Piece of Stonehenge Returned 60 Years After Removal, May Hold Clues to Its Origin

Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England

By Paul Riegler on 10 May 2019
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A missing piece of stone from Stonehenge has been returned to England some 60 years after it was taken, English Heritage said on Wednesday.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, comprised of a ring of stones, each 13 feet (four meters) high, seven feet (2.1 meters) wide, with an approximate weight of 25 tons. English Heritage, which manages over 400 prehistoric sites, historic monuments, and landmarked houses, is responsible for Stonehenge.

The piece was taken by Robert Philips, a Briton who worked for a diamond-cutting firm that installed rods to strengthen one of the stones, which had cracked, who later emigrated to the United States. The returned piece is approximately 3.5 feet (1.08 meters) in length and .98” (25 mm) in diameter.

Mr. Philips, who recently turned 90, decided on the eve of his 90th birthday to return the stone.

“The last thing we ever expected was to get a call from someone in America telling us they had a piece of Stonehenge,” Heather Sebire, the curator at English Heritage who is responsible for Stonehenge, said in an emailed statement. “We are very grateful to the Phillips family for bringing this intriguing piece of Stonehenge back home.”

Radiocarbon dating shows that Stonehenge was constructed 4,000-5,000 years ago. Despite extensive study, it is not clear as to why Stonehenge was built or what purpose it was intended for. Some believe it signified a burial ground, while others believe it could have been a religious site or astronomical observatory. The missing piece is expected to provide additional clues about its origin.

In addition to being one of the most popular tourist sites in the United Kingdom, it is visited by thousands of pagans, druids, and party revelers who celebrate the winter and summer solstices there.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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