What's a henge?

Gallows A Stonehenge "Gallows"
The most popular explanation for Stonehenge's name is that it means "stone gallows".  Henge being related to "hang" or "hinge."  In medieval times the most popular gallows consisted of two vertical posts topped with a horizontal beam.  The linteled stone features may have looked like a stone version of this to the passive on-looker.

a henge
But if you were to ask an archaeologist what a henge was, you would get a completely different answer. In modern times the word henge has been used to describe a man-made circular area enclosed by a ditch, which has a bank built up around the outer rim, that may or may not include a henge monument. A henge monument  is a monument that has been erected in this circular area.  It may be a circle of stones or timbers, or something else.  There are several henge sites around the British Isles, with or without monuments standing.

Examples of other henges and circles
Henges should not be confused with stone or timber circles.  They are elements that can be contained with in a henge, but may also exist on their own. Look at the examples above.  At the top left is a picture of Avebury Henge which contains a stone circle.  On the bottom left is a picture of Drumbeg Circle in Northern Ireland, which is a example of a stone circle without a henge around it.

So, is Stonehenge a henge? Well, not exactly. Stonehenge is enclosed by a ditch, but its bank is built up in the interior of the ditch.  It depends on how picky you want to be.