The Oxford English Dictionary cites Ælfric's tenth-century glossary, in which henge-cliff is given the meaning "precipice", or stone, thus the stanenges or Stanheng "not far from Salisbury" recorded by eleventh-century writers are "supported stones". William Stukeley in 1740 notes, "Pendulous rocks are now called henges in Yorkshire...I doubt not, Stonehenge in Saxon signifies the hanging stones." Christopher Chippindale's Stonehenge Complete gives the derivation of the name Stonehenge as coming from the Old English words stān meaning "stone", and either hencg meaning "hinge" (because the stone lintels hinge on the upright stones) or hen(c)en meaning "hang" or "gallows" or "instrument of torture" (though elsewhere in his book, Chippindale cites the "suspended stones" etymology). Like Stonehenge's trilithons, medieval gallows consisted of two uprights with a lintel joining them, rather than the inverted L-shape more familiar today.
The "henge" portion has given its name to a class of monuments known as henges. Archaeologists define henges as earthworks consisting of a circular banked enclosure with an internal ditch. As often happens in archaeological terminology, this is a holdover from antiquarian use. Because its bank is inside its ditch, Stonehenge is not truly a henge site.
Despite being contemporary with true Neolithic henges and stone circles, Stonehenge is in many ways atypical—for example, at more than 24 feet (7.3 m) tall, its extant trilithons' lintels, held in place with mortise and tenon joints, make it unique.