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Read the following passage and then answer the 10 questions at the end of the text.

A Legend of Stonehenge

There are hundreds of myths and legends about Stonehenge. In the past there have been many theories about who might have built this ancient structure. These have included the Danes, Romans, Saxons, Greeks, Atlanteans, Egyptians, Phoenicians Celts, King Aurelius Ambrosious, Merlin, Druids and even Aliens.

It wasn't until the Dark Ages that Stonehenge started to be appreciated and looked at as more than just a unique pile of rocks. It was during this time that the mystique and legend of Stonehenge really started to get people wondering what Stonehenge was used for and where it came from. Probably the most interesting legend relating to Stonehenge deals with Merlin the wizard of King Arthur fame.

Geoffrey of Monmouth in his book 'Histories of the Kings of Britain' mentions Merlin in connection with Stonehenge for the first time. He wrote about King Vortigern, who ruled until the Saxons, led by two brothers called Hengist and Horsa, invaded England in the 5th century. Vortigen even married Hengist's daughter in hope of preventing the invasion but Hengist was still determined to take over Britain.

One day, near the town of Salisbury, in the month of May, Hengist called a meeting between the Britons and Saxons. During the meeting the Saxons attacked the Britons and killed many of them. This act led to a great battle between the Britons and Saxons at Mount Badon in which Hengist's brother was killed. It was shortly after this battle that the Merlin legend took place.

It seems that King Arthur's uncle, King Aurelius Ambrosious, who, at that time, ruled a large part of what would later become England with the help of the famous wizard Merlin, went to Salisbury, where the Britons killed by Hengist were buried. The king was brought to tears at the sight of so many graves. He wondered how best to mark this sad place. Merlin suggested that it would be a good idea to bring some special magical stones from Ireland and use them to build a monument on the spot.

The King ordered that Uther Pendragon, who was King Arthur's father, and fifteen thousand men would go to get the stones. The stones were located on Mount Killaraus and were used as a site for performing rituals and for healing. Led by King Uther and Merlin, the expedition set off for Ireland. The Irish heard about the expedition and their leader, King Gilloman, raised his own army vowing that the Britons would not take even the very smallest of the stones. The two armies fought a long and difficult campaign against each other. In the end, Uther and his men won their battle with King Gilloman and proceeded to Mount Killaraus.

At first, the Britons were unsuccessful in their attempts to move the stones because they were so big and heavy. At this point, Merlin realized that only his magic arts would solve the problem. So Merlin made some mystical preparations and cast a magic spell. After this they were able to move the stones easily and then ship them back to Britain where they were set up in a great circle around the grave of the murdered Britons. Legend also has it that, when he died, Uther Pendragon was also buried inside this mystical stone circle to which the Saxons would later give the name 'Stonehenge.'

All this, of course, is only a legend. We now know that Stonehenge was errected at a much earlier date. It was built in three separate stages. Apparently, the earliest parts of the site date from about 3000BC. The first stones were added in about 2000BC. Also it has been proved that these stones were transported not from Ireland but from Wales. Even so how they were moved is still unknown. Some think that they were moved the 400 kilometres on rollers, which were made from trees. Others believe that they were brought along the river Avon on huge rafts and then dragged to the site. One thing that is clear though is that however they were moved it must have required many people, who must have had amazing engineering skills for such an early period of history.

Scientists believe they have finally discovered the answers to many of its mysteries, such as how, why, and by whom it was built. They all agree that three separate cultures, the Windmill Hill, Beaker and Wessex peoples, were responsible for the construction of Stonehenge. It is also fairly certain that its purpose was as a religious site. With the aid of modern archaeological dating techniques they have also established that the most probable date for the completion of Stonehenge is 1500BC. Some things about this ancient megalith are more difficult to find out e.g. the reason the site was chosen in the first place. Is still hidden from us. For many ordinary people, though, the fact that we shall probably never know the full truth about Stonehenge is no bad thing. After all, the truth is usually less far less interesting to hear than tales of magic and heroic endeavours.

Stonehenge is now a major tourist attraction. Every year tens of thousands of people go to visit the site. Sadly, this is having a detrimental effect on the condition of the monument. In the past people have chipped off small pieces of the stone to take home as souvvenirs and have even carved their initials on the monument. This has become such a serious problem that some people are demanding that the site be closed to the public in order to protect it. It has even been suggested that it be dismantled and moved to a more secure site. Even now the government minister responsible for such sites is considering limiting visitors to only part of the site. The authorities should certainly take steps to protect this great and important piecof history, but it would be a great shame to make it inaccessible forever.

A Legend of Stonehenge – Questions

Choose the best option to complete the sentences

1. Stonehenge was...

    a) begun in the dark ages.
    b) built in the 5th century.
    c) built by Merlin and Uther Pendragon.
    d) begun about 5000 years ago.

2. Hengist...

    a) was buried near Salisbury.
    b) fought against King Arthur at Mount Badon.
    c) was killed by the Saxons.
    d) was not someone who could be trusted.

3. At the time of the legend Merlin worked...

    a) for Arthur's uncle.
    b) for Arthur.
    c) for Arthur's father.
    d) for the Saxons.

4. In the legend... decided to bring the magical stones from Ireland.

    a) Merlin
    b) King Arthur
    c) Uther Pendragon
    d) King Aurelius Ambrosious

5. King Gilloman...

    a) raised an army to collect the stones.
    b) raised an army to protect the stones.
    c) fought with Uther and his men on Mount Killarus.
    d) didn't want the Britons to take the smallest stone.

6. Merlin...

    a) cast a magic spell that moved the stones to Britain.
    b) took the stones to Britain.
    c) used magic to help Uther get the stones to his ships.
    d) caused the stones to move.

7. Many of the stones used to build Stonehenge...

    a) came from Wales.
    b) came from Ireland.
    c) came from Windmill Hill.
    d) came from Wessex.

8. In fact...

    a) no one knows how the stones were transported for sure.
    b) the stones were moved on rollers.
    c) the stones were dragged to the site.
    d) the stones were floated to the site on rafts.

9. Scientists now...

    a) know all the answers to the mysteries of Stonehenge.
    b) believe that Stonehenge was finished in 1500BC.
    c) think that they know why it was built near Salisbury.
    d) believe it is better not to know everything about Stonehenge.

10. Because of the damage being caused to Stonehenge by tourists...

    a) it is will soon be closed to the public.
    b) it is going to be rebuilt.
    c) it is going to be moved to another location.
    d) access to the site may be restricted.

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