All over Europe, there are monuments of stone such as stonehenge, although many are not so grand as stonehenge is. Contra Asterix, the Celts didn't carve out menhirs and things like that. The stones were already there by the time the Celtic culture came into being.

In medieval times people linked them with Bible stories about the giants that used to roam the earth... says Wikipedia, anyhow.

What did people think about them in ancient, historical times? Did the Romans have any thoughts on who built structures like stonehenge, and for what purpose?

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    They mostly would rely on the local legends I think.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 16:44
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    I suppose so. What were they, then? I don't need to know them all, just a few would do, or even one...
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 17:00
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    If you like. I was just thinking that the Romans might have, you know... written something down :)
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 17:31
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    Oh,I understand that the people who built it had no record. I'm asking about the Romans, as they were the first people in northwestern Europe (?) to have writing
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 22:50
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    These structures would have fit very well into Plato's myth of the lost civilization of Atlanteans, but I have no idea to what degree people outside of scholarly circles would have been aware of Plato's ideas about prehistory. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me can say.
    – David H
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 6:40

2 Answers 2


It is hard to tell since nobody aside from the Romans wrote...and Roman writers were rich city dwelling snobs who could hardly be bothered going to a distant province and writing down natural features there.

There is some indirect evidence in the archaeologic record - Bronze Age settlers would sometimes add to or incorporate Mesolithic survivals into their monuments. Iron Age settlers would often build graveyards around Bronze Age barrows...but not inside. Similarly Anglo Saxon graves can often be found around or in Roman Ruins.

So while we don't know what they thought exactly, it shows that these peoples took note of ancient remains and thought they were significant to them as well.


No mention of Stonehenge or other standing stones is made by Bede, Gildas, Nennius or anyone before them (Agricola, Pliny, Tacitus, Strabo etc). It is likely that in most cases the remains were too remote and too fragmentary to be noticed. In the case of Stonehenge, it is likely it was underground (like its twin Newgrange still is), and was excavated between approximately 950 AD and 1200 AD by either Saxons or Normans looking for buried treasure, or more likely by stone masons gathering materials. To the Romans it would have looked like just a mound or hillock. Also, note that many megaliths, are in remote locations, where the Romans would be unlikely to go.

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