Picture of computer rendering of Stonehenge.

How innovative tech reveals Stonehenge's secrets as never before

From inventive photography to an interactive 3D model, storytelling tools take you deep into the mysteries of the iconic site.

This high-resolution 3D model is also a mobile augmented reality experience. Called Stonehenge AR and distributed on Instagram, it lets users interact with tabletop and full-scale models of the site, toggle through different solstice times, and even take selfies as they “visit.”
Photograph by MARTIN EDSTRÖM

The prehistoric cluster of standing stones known as Stonehenge has intrigued and mystified observers for centuries. The impressive monument has drawn millions of visitors to England’s Salisbury Plain. 

Throughout our publishing history, National Geographic has brought images and stories of Stonehenge to readers in new and exciting ways. The magazine’s very first picture of the megaliths is the black-and-white aerial photo below. Published in May 1922, it was made possible by the cutting-edge technology of that era: the airplane.

For this issue’s cover story, we deployed the latest tools to bring you Stonehenge as you’ve never seen it. We assigned two inventive photographers: Alice Zoo documented people’s connections to Neolithic sites, and Reuben Wu turned landscapes into otherworldly realms steeped in mystery.

Then we decided to go further: to create an immersive, high-resolution 3D model of the site using photogrammetry. We enlisted National Geographic Explorer and photographer Martin Edström. He and his team flew a drone to make more than 7,000 images of the site from all angles and processed them into the digital replica you see here.

We’ve been pushing the boundaries of storytelling for 134 years, and I’m pleased to share our latest work—including our Stonehenge AR experience—with you. 

This story appears in the August 2022 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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