Bradford archaeologists are part of an international research team that has uncovered a host of previously unknown archaeological monuments around Stonehenge in a project that will transform our knowledge of this iconic site.
Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath, can be seen on BBC iPlaver here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04hc5v7/operation-stonehenge-what-lies-beneath-episode-1
Results from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project are unveiled today at the British Science Festival in Birmingham. They show how, using new remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys, the team has uncovered 17 previously unknown ritual monuments around the site, along with dozens of burial mounds – all of which have been mapped in minute detail.
Researchers at the University of Bradford are partners in the project, which is led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, in Austria.
Alongside previously unknown features, the team has also uncovered new information on other monuments, including the Durrington Walls ‘super henge’, a vast ritual monument of more than 1.5 kilometers in circumference which is situated a short distance from Stonehenge.
Hundreds of burial mounds, and settlements from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period have also been surveyed at a level of detail never previously seen. Taken together, the results show how new technology is reshaping how archaeologists understand the landscape of Stonehenge and its development over a period of more than 11,000 years.
Dr Chris Gaffney, Head of Archaeological Sciences at Bradford, says: “The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes project is the pinnacle of a recent trend to apply new and rapid technologies to collect accurate non-invasive data for mapping our buried heritage.
“In many respects, the Stonehenge project goes far beyond any other project – both in the complexity of the data sets generated but also in the immense impact it will have on our understanding of Britain’s greatest and best-known archaeological site.
He adds: “Archaeology studies the past, but, in the application of remote sensing at this scale, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project demonstrates how future researchers will investigate our archaeological heritage. Increasingly, the investigation and understanding of iconic sites across the globe will be enhanced by rapidly mapping the larger-scale environment that they have come to dominate.”
British project leader Professor Vincent Gaffney, Chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics at the University of Birmingham, and Chris Gaffney’s brother, said:
“This project has revealed that the area around Stonehenge is teeming with previously unseen archaeology and that the application of new technology can transform how archaeologists and the wider public understand one of the best-studied landscapes on Earth.
“New monuments have been revealed, as well as new types of monument that have previously never been seen by archaeologists. All of this information has been placed within a single digital map, which will guide how Stonehenge and its landscape are studied in the future.
“Stonehenge may never be the same again.”
The results of the project will be featured in a major new BBC Two series, Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath, is due to be broadcast at 8pm on Thursday 11 September.
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