Stonehenge - new theories and facts

Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 01:25 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I remember being a little boy in the mid/late 60s and getting 'six pennath' of chips, 6d ( two and a half pence) and that came in a greaseproof paper bag with one layer of plain white paper and the rest wrapped up in newspaper, so the food didn't come into contact with newspaper back then. That's my earliest chip related memory.

Maybe it was served directly onto newspaper in more austere times, but I don't remember it.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 01:52 pm
I had my first fish'n chips in Poole in 1963.

Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 01:57 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I hadn't progressed onto solids back then.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 03:29 pm
I don't know if folks will be able to access this article--they put up a subscription notice. According to this National Geographic article, the first stone henge (and earlier wood henges) were in what is now Scotland.

OK, I've found a link which you can use--although you'll have to tell them to piss off when their subscription notice appears (just X it out in the upper right hand corner): Stonehenge Precursor Found? Island Complex Predates Famous Site

0 Replies
Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 03:39 pm
This is from Wilderness Scotland: https://www.wildernessscotland.com/blog/scotlands-stonehenge-standing-stones-callanish/
0 Replies
Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 04:48 pm
Avebury ring isn't far from Stonehenge and in its own way is just as impressive.


The Great Stones Way is one of those ideas so obvious it seems amazing that no one has thought of it before: a 38-mile walking trail to link England's two greatest prehistoric sites, Avebury and Stonehenge, crossing a landscape covered with Neolithic monuments.

But like any project involving the English countryside, it's not as straightforward as it might seem. The steering group has had to secure permission from landowners and the MoD, who use much of Salisbury Plain for training. They hope to have the whole trail open within a year, but for now are trialling a 14-mile southern stretch, having secured agreement from the MoD and parish councils. The "Plain & Avon" section leads from the iron age hill fort of Casterley Camp on Salisbury Plain down the Avon valley to Stonehenge. Walkers are being encouraged to test the route, and detailed directions can be found on the Friends of the Ridgeway website.

It's an area all but the boldest have avoided: negotiating the MoD areas needed careful planning. Few walkers come here and not a single garage or shop along the Avon valley sells local maps. The Great Stones Way should change that.

What makes the prospect of the Great Stones Way so exciting is the sense that for more than a millennium, between around 3000 and 2000BC, the area it crosses was the scene of frenzied Neolithic building activity, with henges, burial barrows and processional avenues criss-crossing the route.

More at link.

Reply Sat 24 Feb, 2018 04:56 pm
Salisbury plain is a bit daunting. This unfamiliar roadsign is very familiar indeed.


The only other place I've seen it is by the tank museum in Dorset.
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Reply Tue 10 Apr, 2018 06:51 am
Could the prehistoric Stonehenge megaliths once have been the support for a wooden, two-storey roundhouse, a venue for feasting, speakers and musicians? That’s the theory of an English landscape architect who designed a small model of what she has in mind and is looking for money to build a 1:10 scale model of the structure.

Sarah Ewbank says the fact she is not an archaeologist has freed her from preconceived notions and allowed her to approach the matter in a fresh way.http://www.ancient-origins.net/sites/default/files/monument.jpg?itok=XJGxQAiF
Here is the link to know more about "new theory that Stonehenge was a two-storey, wooden feasting and performance hall:
Edit [Moderator]: Link removed
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Tue 10 Apr, 2018 01:39 pm
@Lord Ellpus,
If that event had occurred, it would have been international news. I have had the pleasure to have visited Stonehenge several times. I remember a time when we were able to walk amongst the stones.
Reply Tue 10 Apr, 2018 02:25 pm
@cicerone imposter,
No it wouldn't. There are tanks all over Salisbury plain. It would have to be a very dull news day for one to lurch out in front of a car.

I've had them cross the road in front of me, it's that sort of place.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 13 Jun, 2019 09:09 am
Scotland's crannogs are older than Stonehenge:
Archaeologists have discovered that some Scottish crannogs are thousands of years older than previously thought. It was thought they were first built in the Iron Age, a period that began around 800 BC.
But four Western Isles sites have been radiocarbon dated to about 3640-3360 BC in the Neolithic period - before the erection of Stonehenge's stone circle.

Neolithic crannogs: rethinking settlement, monumentality and deposition in the Outer Hebrides and beyond (Antiquity, Volume 93, Issue 369 June 2019 , pp. 664-684)
Artificial islets, or crannogs, are widespread across Scotland. Traditionally considered to date to no earlier than the Iron Age, recent research has now identified several Outer Hebridean Neolithic crannogs. Survey and excavation of these sites has demonstrated—for the first time—that crannogs were a widespread feature of the Neolithic and that they may have been special locations, as evidenced by the deposition of material culture into the surrounding water. These findings challenge current conceptualisations of Neolithic settlement, monumentality and depositional practice, while suggesting that other ‘undated’ crannogs across Scotland and Ireland could potentially have Neolithic origins.

cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 13 Jun, 2019 10:38 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Photos of Scottish crannogs. https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrUi6bmewJdv2wAkgAPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByNWU4cGh1BGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--?p=scottish+crannogs+scotland&fr=yhs-pty-pty_converter&hspart=pty&hsimp=yhs-pty_converter
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 20 Jun, 2019 11:11 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Sunrise at Stonehenge will now be visible around the world
Summer solstice is launch date for live feed from camera close to the stones

For thousands of years people have made the pilgrimage to Stonehenge to gaze in wonder at the interplay with the monument of the sun, moon and stars, but from Friday a virtual version of the looming sky above the circle will be available to people from around the world.

A live feed from a camera set up close to the stones is being set up – appropriately enough on the summer solstice – to allow people to tune in to the monument whenever they want.

After dark, the live feed is replaced by a computer-generated image of the night sky as it would be at the moment a viewer clicks on the link to the website.

English Heritage hopes that the feed will allow those who cannot make the trip in person to experience sunrise, sunset and the ever-changing night sky, and even make them feel closer to the ancient people who created the stone circle.

The Stonehenge Skyscape project may also be used as a method of worship for those who believe that the stone circle and landscape is a deeply spiritual place.

Susan Greaney, a senior historian at English Heritage, said: “Stonehenge was built to align with the sun, and to neolithic people the skies were arguably as important as the surrounding landscape.

“At solstice we remember the changing daylight hours, but the changing seasons, cycles of the moon and movements of the sun are likely to have underpinned many practical and spiritual aspects of neolithic life.

“Stonehenge’s connection with the skies is a crucial part of understanding the monument today and we are really excited to share this view online with people all over the world. If someone can’t travel to Stonehenge, they will still be able to witness what is happening there from wherever they are. People on the other side of the world will be able to see sunrise at Stonehenge.”

As part of the project, English Heritage has joined forces with the space scientist and science educator Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who will host a star and moon-gazing event next month.

She said: “Imagine our neolithic ancestors sitting around a fire looking up at the heavens and telling stories inspired by the movement of the planets, the patterns of the stars and of course the sun and the moon.

“Stonehenge Skyscape offers a mesmerising insight into our ancestors’ lives and hopefully, beyond visiting the website, it will inspire people all over the world to go outside and look up.”

Aderin-Pocock said the project could help people who were were losing their connection with the night sky because of light pollution. “People who are aware of Stonehenge but not able to make the trip can see the sunrise, the sunset and the stars there. It gives global access to something really amazing. It could also help people who are stressed. There’s something very peaceful about gazing at the sky.”

Stonehenge Skyscape is a composite representation of the sky above the stones accurate to within a window of approximately five minutes. After dark it switches from a photographic depiction to a computer-generated one, which accurately displays the live location of the stars and visible planets.

Neptune, Uranus and Pluto are consciously not included because, being invisible to the naked eye, they were undiscovered until the 18th century or later.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2020 12:29 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge



Exclusive: prehistoric structure spanning 1.2 miles in diameter is masterpiece of engineering, say archaeologists

A circle of deep shafts has been discovered near the world heritage site of Stonehenge, to the astonishment of archaeologists, who have described it as the largest prehistoric structure ever found in Britain.

Four thousand five hundred years ago, the Neolithic peoples who constructed Stonehenge, a masterpiece of engineering, also dug a series of shafts aligned to form a circle spanning 1.2 miles (2km) in diameter. The structure appears to have been a boundary guiding people to a sacred area because Durrington Walls, one of Britain’s largest henge monuments, is located precisely at its centre. The site is 1.9 miles north-east of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, near Amesbury, Wiltshire.

Prof Vincent Gaffney, a leading archaeologist on the project, said: “This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK. Key researchers on Stonehenge and its landscape have been taken aback by the scale of the structure and the fact that it hadn’t been discovered until now so close to Stonehenge.”

The Durrington Shafts discovery, announced on Monday, is all the more extraordinary because it offers the first evidence that the early inhabitants of Britain, mainly farming communities, had developed a way to count. Constructing something of this size with such careful positioning of its features could only have been done by tracking hundreds of paces.

The shafts are vast, each more than 5 metres deep and 10 metres in diameter. Approximately 20 have been found and there may have been more than 30. About 40% of the circle is no longer available for study as a consequence of modern development.

Gaffney said: “The size of the shafts and circuit surrounding Durrington Walls is currently unique. It demonstrates the significance of Durrington Walls Henge, the complexity of the monumental structures within the Stonehenge landscape, and the capacity and desire of Neolithic communities to record their cosmological belief systems in ways, and at a scale, that we had never previously anticipated.”

He added: “I can’t emphasise enough the effort that would have gone in to digging such large shafts with tools of stone, wood and bone.”

But then these are the same people who also built Stonehenge, dragging bluestones to the site from south-west Wales about 150 miles away.

While Stonehenge was positioned in relation to the solstices, or the extreme limits of the sun’s movement, Gaffney said the newly discovered circular shape suggests a “huge cosmological statement and the need to inscribe it into the earth itself”.

He added: “Stonehenge has a clear link to the seasons and the passage of time, through the summer solstice. But with the Durrington Shafts, it’s not the passing of time, but the bounding by a circle of shafts which has cosmological significance.”

The boundary may have guided people towards a sacred site within its centre or warned against entering it.

As the area around Stonehenge is among the world’s most-studied archaeological landscapes, the discovery is all the more unexpected. Having filled naturally over millennia, the shafts – although enormous – had been dismissed as natural sinkholes and dew ponds. The latest technology – including geophysical prospection, ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry – showed them as geophysical anomalies and revealed their true significance.

Gaffney said: “We are starting to see things we could never see through standard archaeology, things we could not imagine.”

Based at the University of Bradford, he is the co-principal investigator of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape project, which has been surveying tens of kilometres of landscape across Salisbury Plain. Archaeologists are now joining the dots and seeing this massive pattern, he said.

Coring of the shafts has provided crucial radiocarbon dates to more than 4,500 years ago, making the boundary contemporary with both Stonehenge and Durrington Walls. The boundary also appears to have been laid out to include an earlier prehistoric monument, the Larkhill causewayed enclosure, built more than 1,500 years before the henge at Durrington.

Struck flint and unidentified bone fragments were recovered from the shafts, but archaeologists can only speculate how those features were once used.

Gaffney said: “What we’re seeing is two massive monuments with their territories. Other archaeologists, including Michael Parker Pearson at University College London, have suggested that, while Stonehenge, with its standing stones, was an area for the dead, Durrington, with its wooden structures, was for the living.”

He added that, while numerous ancient civilisations had counting systems, the evidence lies primarily in texts in various forms that they left behind. The planning involved in contracting a prehistoric structure of this size must have involved a tally or counting system, he believes. Positioning each shaft would have involved pacing more than 800 metres from the henge outwards.

The research has involved a consortium of archaeologists, led by the University of Bradford and including the universities of Birmingham and St Andrews, in an international collaboration with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology at the University of Vienna.

Henry Chapman, professor of archaeology at Birmingham University, described it as “an incredible new monument”, and Richard Bates, a geoscientist at St Andrews University, said it offered “an insight to the past that shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine”.

The consortium is publishing a scientific open-access paper in Internet Archaeology.

The discovery makes up for the cancellation of this year’s summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge – on 20 June – due to the ban on mass gatherings prompted by Covid-19. Archaeologists have another reason to rejoice after the discovery nearby of a giant Neolithic structure.
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2020 06:56 am
@Walter Hinteler,
So interesting. Thanks Walter
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2020 07:20 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
The consortium is publishing a scientific open-access paper in Internet Archaeology.

Full paper in "Internet Archaeology: A Massive, Late Neolithic Pit Structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2020 11:30 am
@Walter Hinteler,
red the graphics.(Read the paper later). The fluxgate mag can be quite sensitive qnd displayed with the LIDR , I do NOT see any evidence that this is a recent diplay. If it were recent (As suggested from military installations or testing ranges), The "hillshade" output of the LIDAR would coincide with the anomalies quite closely. LIDAR over accentuates any surficiaal feature and Id say that a mound or a series of berms woushow fairly strongly. Unless I missed some of the maps, I dont see tht, In fact, what looks like old field or waterway lineations, suggests that the waterway structurs came much later than the anomalies.
O, my guess is that this stuff really IS quite old.
I wonder if they buried some of the larger doleritic stones , which, by their Fe content would stick out as a positive magnetic anomaly on the fluxgate instrument.
NOW , Id go and do a spinner magnetometre scan. This would quantify and provide age ranges by comparing to each other and to undisturbed sediments.

Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 22 Jun, 2020 12:00 pm
Scrap Stonehenge road tunnel plans say archaeologists after neolithic discovery
Exclusive: Discovery of prehistoric structure is another reason to give up ‘disastrous, white elephant’ scheme

Leading archaeologists say a £1.6bn scheme to build a road tunnel through the historic Stonehenge landscape should be scrapped altogether after the sensational nearby discovery of the largest prehistoric structure ever found in Britain.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2020 12:31 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Archaeologists discover likely source of Stonehenge's giant sarsen stones
Stones in Wiltshire woodland found to be exact match for majority of site’s sarsens

Today West Woods in Wiltshire is a popular spot for hikers, dog walkers and mountain bikers, famed for its bluebells in the springtime. Stick to the footpaths and it is easy to miss the hefty flat stones hidden in the undergrowth.

But groundbreaking scientific research published on Wednesday reveals that, 4,500 years ago, this spot – and in particular those hulking sandstone boulders – drew the ancient architects of Stonehenge.

The research, made possible after a piece of one of the stones taken away as a souvenir 60 years ago was recovered, concludes that 50 of the 52 sarsen stones at Stonehenge were probably sourced from West Woods, on the edge of modern-day Marlborough.

It proposes possible routes along which Stonehenge’s creators may have transported the sarsens to their resting spot on Salisbury Plain 15 miles (24km) to the south, though how they managed to get them there remains a puzzle. Future research will try to pinpoint the specific sarsen extraction pits in the woods, which could yield more discoveries about the people who built Stonehenge.

David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton, who led the research, said the hairs on the back of his neck stood up when he considered the notion of ancient builders working on the spot and the huge effort it took to source the stones and transport them.

“This was a big, concerted, deliberate act,” he said. “It must have been a real undertaking. That brought home to me the scale and focus that was required.”

Typically weighing 20 tonnes and standing up to 7 metres tall, sarsens make up all 15 stones of Stonehenge’s central horseshoe, the uprights and lintels of the outer circle and outlying stones such as the heel stone, the slaughter stone and the station stones.

The monument’s smaller bluestones have been traced to the Preseli Hills in Wales, almost 200 miles (320km) away, but the origin of the sarsens – more homogenous in composition – had until now proved tricky to pin down. Experts had worked on the puzzle for four centuries and concluded they were probably from north Wiltshire but had not found the precise spot.

A breakthrough came after a tube-shaped sample of one of the Stonehenge megaliths taken by a man who worked on a restoration project in 1958 was handed back last year. Nash and his team were allowed to use “destructive” techniques on chips from the sample to create a geochemical “fingerprint” of the monument’s sarsen stones.

They then analysed sarsens from 20 sites across southern England including Mutter’s Moor in Devon and Valley of the Stones in Dorset, comparing their composition with the chemistry of the chips. Nash said they were surprised that stones from West Woods, which in the time of Stonehenge was probably treeless open high ground, turned out to be an exact match.

“We weren’t really setting out to find the source of Stonehenge,” he said. “We picked 20 areas and our goal was to try to eliminate them, to find ones that didn’t match. We didn’t think we’d get a direct match. It was a real ‘Oh my goodness’ moment.”

There are several possible routes that the builders of Stonehenge may have used to move the stones from West Woods. One suggestion favoured by Nash is that they may have moved a few miles west then south through the Vale of Pewsey, possibly passing close to neolithic sites at Marden and Knapp Hill. They may also have gone more directly south and picked up the course of the River Avon. How they did it remains a mystery. Some some speculate that they were moved on sleds or rollers.

Another puzzle is why two of the 52 stones appear not to be from West Woods. One possibility is that they are the work of different builder communities who chose to source their materials from a separate area.

The English Heritage senior properties historian Susan Greaney said she was delighted that one of the most intriguing questions about Stonehenge had been answered.

She said: “To be able to pinpoint the area that Stonehenge’s builders used to source their materials around 2500BC is a real thrill. Now we can start to understand the route they might have travelled and add another piece to the puzzle.”

While it is thought the smaller bluestones were sourced from Pembrokeshire because the builders of Stonehenge had some sort of sacred connection with the landscape there, it may be that the West Woods site was chosen for – relative – convenience.

Greaney said: “When sourcing the sarsens, the overriding objective seems to be size – they wanted the biggest, most substantial stones they could find and it made sense to get them from as nearby as possible.”
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 4 Feb, 2021 09:58 am
Archaeologists unearth bronze age graves at Stonehenge tunnel site
Exclusive: experts also find neolithic pottery and mysterious C-shaped enclosure at A303 excavation site

Bronze age graves, neolithic pottery and the vestiges of a mysterious C-shaped enclosure that might have been a prehistoric industrial area are among the finds unearthed by archaeologists who have carried out preliminary work on the site of the proposed new road tunnel at Stonehenge.

One of the most intriguing discoveries is a unique shale object that could have been part of a staff or club found in a 4,000-year-old grave. Nearby is the resting spot of a baby buried with a small, plain beaker.

Ditches that flank the C-shaped enclosure contain burnt flint, suggesting a process such as metal or leatherworking was carried out there thousands of years ago.

Just south of the site of the Stonehenge visitor centre, archaeologists came upon neolithic grooved ware pottery possibly left there by the people who built the stone circle or visited it.

“We’ve found a lot – evidence about the people who lived in this landscape over millennia, traces of people’s everyday lives and deaths, intimate things,” said Matt Leivers, A303 Stonehenge consultant archaeologist at Wessex Archaeology. “Every detail lets us work out what was happening in that landscape before during and after the building of Stonehenge. Every piece brings that picture into a little more focus.”

The plan to drop the A303, which passes close to the stones, into a two-mile tunnel is hugely controversial, with many experts having said that carrying out such intrusive construction work would cause disastrous harm to one of the world’s most precious ancient landscapes and lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of artefacts. A legal challenge was launched against the £1.7bn plan late last year.

Highways England and Wessex Archaeology, which is leading the exploration of the tunnel corridor, said they were working on the project systematically and sensitively.

During this preliminary phase, Wessex experts have hand dug and sieved almost 1,800 test pits and excavated and recorded more than 400 trial trenches.

The next phase of archaeological excavations will begin later this year, lasting approximately 18 months and involving up to 150 archaeologists. Construction work on the tunnel is due to start in 2023.

Near the planned eastern portal of the tunnel, the archaeologists discovered large amounts of debitage – waste material from the manufacture of flint tools – and ditches that may date to the iron age and could be associated with Vespasian’s Camp, a hillfort to the south.
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