The new archaeological findings at Stonehege suggest it once may have been southern England's A&E unit, according to a report in today's Guardian
(Source. Guardian, 23.09.08, page 18)
Archaeologists had believed that by the time the Romans arrived in Britain, Stonehenge was just a towering enigma, its ritual importance entirely forgotten.
The latest finds imply a much more complex story: they include a Roman coin among stone fragments, suggesting the Romans also believed in and sought out the healing magic. The later charcoal deposits suggest to Darvill and Wainwright annual gatherings, perhaps for feasting and ceremony at the winter solstice, continuing as late as the 17th century.
The modern-day druids and pagans who assemble bearing green boughs for the winter and summer solstices may not be so far off the mark after all.
The last excavation at Stonehenge was in 1964. Although in April Darvill and Wainwright only won permission from English Heritage for a trench the size of a large hearthrug - "a little piece of keyhole surgery" as Darvill described it - it was the first excavation at which the whole armoury of modern scientific archaeology could be fired. "This is very much work in progress," Wainwright said yesterday. "There are more surprises to come, I'm sure of that."
Next season they will be back in Preseli, looking for more evidence of ritual practice at the home of the bluestones.
"I'm sure we'll find the Welsh architect of Stonehenge yet," Wainwright said.
The excavation was funded by BBC Timewatch and Smithsonian Networks and a documentary on the findings will be screened on BBC2 at 8pm on Saturday.
And re the Archer, the above quoted report says:
The Archer, whose grave was found in 2002 just three miles from Stonehenge, came like the much younger man buried near him - who may have been a son or nephew - from modern Switzerland. The skeleton suggests he spent years in agony from a shattered kneecap, and may eventually have died poisoned by an abscess which rotted a hole through his jaw.