Altar Stone (Stonehenge)

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The Altar Stone

The Altar Stone is a recumbent central megalith at Stonehenge in England, dating to Stonehenge phase 3i, around 2600 BC. It is made of a purplish-green micaceous sandstone and is thought to have originated from outcrops of the Senni Beds formation of the Old Red Sandstone in Wales, though this is currently in debate.[1][2] Stone 80 (Altar Stone) was most recently excavated in the 1950s, but no written records of the excavation survive, and there are no samples available for examination that are established as having come from the monolith. Stone 55 (a sarsen megalith) lies on top of Stone 80 perpendicularly, and is thought to have fallen across it. The Altar Stone weighs approximately six tons and (if it ever was upright) would have stood nearly two metres tall. Some believe that it always was recumbent [3] It is sometimes classed as a bluestone, because it does not have a local provenance.

Its name probably comes from a comment by Inigo Jones who wrote: "...whether it might be an Altar or no I leave to the judgment of others’.[4]


  1. ^ R.A.Ixer and P.Turner. 2006. A detailed re-examination of the petrography of the Altar Stone and other non-sarsen sandstones from Stonehenge as a guide to their provenance. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 99, 1-9, abstract found at
  2. ^ Rob Ixer, Peter Turner, Stewart Molyneux, and Richard Bevins. 2017. The petrography, geological age and distribution of the Lower Palaeozoic Sandstone debitage from the Stonehenge Landscape. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 110, 1-16, paper found at
  3. ^ John, Brian. The Stonehenge Bluestones. Greencroft Books. p. 172. ISBN 978-0905559-94-0.
  4. ^ North, John. Stonehenge. Simon and Schuster. p. 424. ISBN 978-1416576464. Retrieved 4 August 2014.

Coordinates: 51°10′44″N 1°49′34″W / 51.17882°N 1.82623°W / 51.17882; -1.82623