Recent discoveries in the Stonehenge landscape.
Several previously unknown archaeological monuments may have been discovered around Stonehenge as part of a digital mapping project that will help improve our knowledge of this iconic landscape – including possible new findings on the world’s largest ‘super henge’, Durrington Walls.
Remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys have identified hundreds of new features which now form part of a detailed archaeological digital map of the Stonehenge landscape. The results of the survey, include 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating to the period when Stonehenge achieved its iconic shape. Dozens of burial mounds have been mapped, including a long barrow (a burial mound dating to before Stonehenge) which revealed a massive timber building, possibly used for the ritual inhumation of the dead following a complicated sequence of exposure and excarnation (defleshing), and which was finally covered by an earthen mound.
The project has also revealed new information on previously known monuments. Among the most significant relate to the Durrington Walls ‘super henge’, situated 1 ¾ miles from Stonehenge.
A new survey reveals that this had an early phase when the monument was flanked with a row of massive posts or stones, perhaps up to three metres high and up to 60 in number – some of which may still survive beneath the massive banks surrounding the monument
Work also revealed novel types of monument including massive prehistoric pits, some of which appear to form astronomic alignments, plus new information on hundreds of burial mounds, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlements and fields at a level of detail never previously seen.
Surveys have produced detailed maps of WW1 practice trenches dug around Stonehenge to prepare troops for battle on the western front.
So where does it go from here? Geophysics shows us that there may or is something underground, but until it’s actually dug we don’t know what it is. As an example in 2008 The Stonehenge Riverside Project discovered a series of apparent postholes at the eastern end of the Cursus. After two weeks of digging they turned out to be tree throw holes!
This is an interesting development in the research of the landscape, but it’s only the start.
For more information on the project go to http://lbi-archpro.org/cs/stonehenge/index.html
Information on tours around the Stonehenge landscape can be found on our Stonehenge Special Access page.
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