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A mid-14th-century manuscript illustration showing the wizard Merlin building Stonehenge.

This idea, explained by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ in 1136, was widely accepted until as late as the 16th century © British Library Board (Egerton MS 3028 fol 30) The small town of Amesbury is likely to have been established around the 6th century AD at a crossing point over the Avon.

It is possible that this is why it became the site of an early Neolithic monument complex.

This complex included the causewayed enclosure at Robin Hood’s Ball, two cursus monuments or rectangular earthworks (the Greater, or Stonehenge, and Lesser Cursus), and several long barrows, all dating from the centuries around 3500 BC.

In about 2500 BC the stones were set up in the centre of the monument.

Two types of stone are used at Stonehenge – the larger sarsens and the smaller ‘bluestones’.

The Normanton Down Barrows lie on the crest of a low ridge just to the south of Stonehenge.