Laser scan for Stonehenge secrets

10 03 2011

Stonehenge is being scanned using modern laser technology to search for hidden clues about how and why it was built.

All visible faces of the standing and fallen stones, many of which are obscured by lichen, will be surveyed.  Some ancient carvings have previously been found on the stones, including a famous Neolithic “dagger”.  The survey is already in progress and is expected to finish by the end of March.

“The surfaces of the stones of Stonehenge hold fascinating clues to the past,” said English Heritage archaeologist Dave Batchelor.  The team will be looking for ancient “rock art”, but also for more modern graffiti, in a comprehensive survey of the site.
Among those who have left their mark in the stones is “Wren” – thought to be Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

Wren’s family had a home nearby, where he is known to have spent time, adding credibility to the claim.

The new survey will be the most accurate digital model ever for the world famous prehistoric monument, measuring details and irregularities on the stone surfaces to a resolution of 0.5mm.

Graffiti on one of the stones is thought to have been made by Sir Christopher Wren

Graffiti on one of the stones is thought to have been made by Sir Christopher Wren

The previous survey in 1993 was photographic, and only measured to an accuracy of about 2cm.

“This new survey will capture a lot more information on the subtleties of the monument and its surrounding landscape,” said Paul Bryan, head of geospatial surveys at English Heritage.

Laser scanning is also being used to map the earthworks immediately around the stone circle, and the surrounding landscape, as part of a wider project.

English Heritage has proposed a new £25m visitor centre at Stonehenge and closing parts of the A344, which runs just yards away from the landmark.

Government funding was withdrawn last year, but the Heritage Lottery Fund has promised £10m. English Heritage is seeking additional funds and is confident of raising the money it needs

Links:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12688085
Sponsors:  The Stonehenge Tour Company

This new survey will no doubt capture a lot more information on the subtleties of the monument – wath this space………..

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Website

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3 responses

10 03 2011
Jess Green

I wonder if lasers can pick up evidence of hedges planted on earthworks. Would be of interest to know whether these living enclosures formed part of the sacred landscape, alongside their use in agriculture and fortifications during this period, which as we know were landscaped with banks and ditches. i.e. the creation of artificial or symbolic groves.

10 03 2011
Sam

A laser scan of Stonehenge? This would be facinating indeed, if it hadn’t already been done! Here’s an example from the earlier laser scans:
http://www.solvingstonehenge.co.uk/page7.html

11 03 2011
the lady rose

I sincerely hope the road passing this monument is not subject to closure — Driving past those wonderful old stones really brings our heritage closer to us , Closing the road distances us from that, and of course if stonehenge cannot be experienced in this way the only alternative is to PAY to “go in to see them” along with a visitor centre Just money making in my opinion– what next ?

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