Was Stonehenge built inside a settlement?

Stonehenge is currently in the middle of nowhere on the A303 road.
Today someone claimed that when it was built, it was in the middle of a settlement. Googling is inconclusive.

There were settlements on and off in the area going back 10,000 years or so. At the time the Stonehenge’s construction was started there was a settlement nearby, but I don’t think Stonehenge was in the middle of it. Just nearby.

Please keep in mind that Stonehenge was built in stages.

Yes, I aware of the fact it was built in stages. In retrospect it does seem strange it’s in the arse end of no where, or at least as possible it is possible in the south of England.

No, it wasn’t in the middle of a settlement. It was part of a larger processional series of structures. There was a settlement in the area though (Amesbury, IIRC), if that’s what you are asking. Also, I believe there were a few builder facilities fairly close too, but these were more for the construction and logistics when they were erecting the stones (or moving them around…they were reconfigured several times). But Stonehenge was a ceremonial site going back even before the large stones associated with it were ever put down, and you don’t build your settlement in such a place.

Not if you’re a pastoralist.

I know archaeologists of found plenty of barrows in the area and signs of prior inhabitation. During some of the construction phases they found signs of camps associated with the workers that built it.

I’ll do some checking but I pretty sure at the time the first stage was built there was an actually settlement nearby.

This Britannica article give probably the best summary of what we currently know.

Common prior beliefs about the site that are now dismissed. Not raised by Merlin, not built by Druids, not a giant sun & moon calculator.

In the linked article it looks like the settlement nearby was there for phase 2; Second stage: 2640–2480 BCE.

BTW: Smithsonian Channel has run some excellent programs on Stonehenge. A little slow of course but deep in knowledge and not myths.

So are many Mayan temples (today) and other archaeological sites.

Well, it isn’t nowhere. It’s near Bath and Salisbury. Nothing is very far from anywhere around there. Also, if you look at Avebury, it had a ring surrounding the village and in the middle ages they used to have a big party each summer and destroy one of the stones. The rubble was used to build nearby houses IIRC. If Stonehenge had been too near anywhere there probably wouldn’t be anything left and we’d be talking about some other stone circle. There are stone circles all over Britain. There used to be ones in Europe but they were mostly scavenged. It’s sort of like asking why all the dinosaurs were in Montana, or why stone age people made everything out of stone.

Animistic religions find various random spots in the wild to be magical.

It’s probably reasonable to guess that the things you interact with daily are not magical. Things too far away are just unknown, foreign, and scary. Things which are somewhere in the middle are just right to be designated magical.

It’s sort of a similar phenomenon to how it is that UFO sightings are popular on Friday evenings when people are out and drunk. Expecting the underlying logic to be rational, mystical, or laudable is probably not the right view to take on the matter.

I don’t think it was a random spot. For one, it’s close to a river…in fact, the broader processional structures used access to that river for other ceremonial areas of the overall site. Also, it seems to have been a special site going back to earlier people’s in the area (I recall reading something about it being a ceremonial site dedicated to great hunts of the past with respect to aurochs long before the first megalithic stone was put in place). That all might seem random to us, today, but it wasn’t random to them at the time…there were plenty of good reasons it was a ceremonial site to the people living there at the time.

In the well known QI phrase ‘nobody knows’.

There is no evidence of a settlement and very few graves/remains in the immediate vicinity, but that might mean that any settlement was transient and made no permanent impact on the ground. The river was much closer when it was built (that’s partly how they got those big rocks there) and it is possible that whoever started it might have chosen it because it was remote and unoccupied.

Not many of those today in Wiltshire.

Stonehenge was certainly a place of ritual, and not a place of dwelling, from its earliest beginning. An interesting perspective on Stonehenge is given by SDMB’s own Lynne Kelly in her excellent must-read book The Memory Code.

The “Amesbury Archer,” whose grave was found near Stonehenge in 2002, is a fascinating discovery! “Research using oxygen isotope analysis in the Archer’s tooth enamel has suggested that he originated from an alpine region of central Europe.” The goods with which he was buried — including the earliest gold artifact ever found in Britain — imply that he was a Very Important Person. His corpse is dated to 2300 BC, about the time Bell Beaker culture arrived in Britain, and his grave goods confirm this Beaker connection.

What I find intriguing is the connection of Amesbury Archer to the R1b-L21 Y-chromosome haplogroup. As you see at the 2nd diagram on this image an overwhelming percentage of present-day British Island males (with the exception of the Southeast where the Anglo-Saxons eventually invaded) are agnatic descendants of the male who had the L21 mutation. And the chronology of the Y-chromosome clading tree is now understood well enough to say the L21 mutation occurred about 2300 BC and that a journey of the L21 line from West Germany to England took place at about that date — the same date as Amesbury Archer’s journey!

AFAIK, researchers still have not divulged the Y-haplogroup of the Archer. But he was buried with a “Companion” known from other evidence to be close kin with the Archer; and the Companion IIRC does show the L21 haplogroup. The L21 migrants quickly became a dominant (“royal”) caste or clan; their procreations soon dominated Britain; and the Amesbury Archer and/or his brothers or cousins were probably part of that “royal clan.”

Durrington Walls, a site with maybe 4000 inhabitants, was nearby, and probably supplied much of the manpower and perhaps the priesthood for the site of Stonehenge.
I remember looking over a fence into the Durrington site in wonder at the scale of the settlement. The weird ‘Woodhenge’ site was just over the road as well. I doubt we’ll ever know exactly what they got up to, but there is a lot of information available nowadays.

You sure?

Stonehenge is in the middle of a large and complex multi-layered, long-term ritual landscape. Archaeological work suggests that at different times the specific monuments (think of them as dots on a map) were given additional meaning by being connected visually by line of sight, or along corridors, such as river lines where people may have paraded or collected together, or were oriented to astronomical alignments as points on the horizon. Together the whole is a complex of dots and straight and crooked lines, which at different times are partly erased and overlain by other relationships. Wonderfully complex, but also a glorious mess when its all plonked onto one map.

Google ‘Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project’ to track down some of the research papers, which attempt to collate all the archaeological and geophysical data and have cool maps. Here’s one overviewthat is reasonably fresh, and a much more useful but older academic paperwith useful images.

Permanent settlement in the immediate vicinity of Stonehenge seems notably absent compared to burials and ritual spaces (yes, its all ritual when we don’t know what it is, but we can readily tell when settlements are present).

Banksiaman remarks, just above:

Archaelogists in the year 12,525 may uncover large tracts of the remains of these artifacts, and be mystified at their purpose. Found in numerous places throughout the world, and often in areas with little evidence of having been heavily populated at the time, they will conclude that these are some kind of pagan or Druidic ceremonial ritual temples.

Yes, but in some cases it does do that, at least to some extent.

Doesn’t have to be even that far into the future. Rather than 12,525 you could probably find them mystifying you in the year 2525 (thank you for your prescience, Zager and Evans). By then all our power and energy will come on a phone app, and the phone will be a pill. From Space!

Well, it marks the solstices. I suppose that’s a “sun calculator” of a sort, but the calculator theories being refered to were theories such as the outer ring could be used to calculate eclipses (pretty sure I actually learned that in school) and various other stuff that is, shall we say, not well founded.