Sometimes discoveries do not require advanced machines or technological tools, instead, they can be made by sharp human observations. Recent revelations of Stonehenge compliment this fact very well. Stonehenge history is filled with theories that have been proposed by various archaeologists and historians which make it one of the most interesting prehistoric monuments we have come across.
Stonehenge is a monument that keeps on giving. In 2008, archaeologists Timothy Darvill and Geoffrey Wainwright who had been excavating at the monument argued that it had functioned like a prehistoric Lourdes, a place for healing.
Then, around the same time and subsequently, Mike Parker-Pearson and the Stonehenge Riverside Project team maintained, not necessarily contradictorily, that the place was in effect a huge cemetery linked with funerary rituals at the giant Durrington Walls henge situated not far away to the north-east along the River Avon.
BLUESTONES AT STONEHENGE ORIGINATE FROM A PLACE KNOWN FOR RIGNING OR MUSICAL ROCKS..
And only this year, Jon Wozencroft, reporting on their Royal College of Art ‘Landscape & Perception’ project, pointed out that the bluestones at Stonehenge originated in rocky outcrops in Preseli, Wales, that are notably rich in ringing or musical rocks – a fact (not a mere theory) literally unheard of previously. Now, we have two further sets of revelations. English Heritage archaeologists and personnel have recently reported (in Antiquity) on dry weather grass markings they call “parch marks” discovered at Stonehenge in the summer of 2014.
the now ruinous outer ring of sarsen stones at Stonehenge was once complete and truly circular..
A site steward, Tim Daw, was watering the grass in the monument but found that his hosepipe did not reach all the way across the ring of stones. At the end of his hosepipe tether, Daw found himself looking at dried circles of grass, and in a flash of inspiration figured they marked where standing stones had once been positioned. Archaeologists later supported his observation.
The find is significant because the presumed stone holes show that the now ruinous outer ring of sarsen stones at Stonehenge was once complete and truly circular, despite previous claims to the contrary from some scholars.
the 3D mapping Has revealed some 17 neighbouring monuments that once existed..
Interestingly, earlier geophysical surveys had failed to reveal the stone holes, showing that important archaeological findings can sometimes be made by simple, alert human observation without high-tech aids or digging.
Also Read: The Enigmatic Stone Circle at Castlerigg
The other current Stonehenge revelation did require high-tech methods, however – over the last few years the landscape surrounding Stonehenge and Durrington Walls has been subjected to a very high-resolution geophysical survey by the ‘Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project’ undertaken by archaeologists from Birmingham University and the German Ludwig Boltzmann Institute.
The researchers used powerful ground-penetrating radar among other instrumentation. To the modern visitor, Stonehenge might seem to stand in splendid isolation, but the 3-D mapping produced by the project has revealed some 17 neighbouring, now ‘lost’, monuments that once existed long before – or contemporaneously with – the various phases of Stonehenge.
alignments to the midsummer sunrise and sunset meet at the location now occupied by Stonehenge..
Among especially notable sites identified was what had been a 33m (108ft) – long trapezoidal timber building covering around 300m2 (359yds2) – a mighty long barrow some 6,000 years old, more ancient than Stonehenge itself. Other, previously unknown, nearby henges were also uncovered by the geophysical probing. A particularly fascinating find was the former existence of two deep pits at either end of the Greater Stonehenge Cursus, a nearly 2-mile (2.8km)-long, very mysterious, straight earthen avenue a short distance north of the monument.
It has been found that alignments to the midsummer sunrise and sunset drawn through each pit respectively, meet, when extended, at the location now occupied by Stonehenge – at last a key explanation as to why the monument was sited where it is. But there is much more to learn from this research, and BBC2 TV has made a good start at its public exposition with two documentaries, ‘Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath’, replete with startling computer reconstructions and links with related archaeology in the Stonehenge landscape.
We are sure to come across many more interesting Stonehenge facts in the future. Stay tuned.
Sources & References:
- BBC News, 10 Sept 2014