Stonehenge Stone Circle News and Information

Incredible Discovery at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge.

This week has seen one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in recent years.

For centuries, archaeologists as well as the public have marvelled at the sheer richness of neolithic history concentrated in the Wessex area. Whether it’s the world famous mystery of Stonehenge, Avebury stone circle or Durrington Walls  (possibly the largest neolithic settlement in Europe). With such a historic landscape, so rigorously examined over the years, new discoveries are often few and far between or small in scale. This week however, archaeologists have discovered a gigantic neolithic circle of deep shafts surrounding Durrington Walls – a discovery of seismic proportions.

A new circle discovered near Stonehenge, is more than 10 metres in diameter and five metres deep. Photo taken by Stonehenge Dronescapes.

“This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK,” said archaeologist Vincent Gaffney.

The neolithic settlement, thought to be where the builders of Stonehenge resided, lies around 3 km from the iconic monoliths. The newly found surrounding circle consists of over 20 colossal shafts in fastidiously accurate arrangement. Archaeologists have reported that the shafts form a circle more than two kilometres wide around the ancient settlement, and they believe this perimeter served as a boundary to a sacred area. 

The shafts themselves, 10 metres (32 Feet) wide and five meters (16 Feet) deep, are believed to be more than 4,500 years ago, the same age as the Durrington Walls settlement.

Experts from several institutes including University of St Andrews, the University of Wales, Warwick, Birmingham, Trinity Saint David and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, came together in a multidisciplinary effort to make this stunning finding. 

Not only is this one of the largest finds in recent years, but also could prove to be an incredibly important discovery for our understanding of the Neolithic peoples. This find could be the decisive evidence needed to prove our ancestors enacted a system of counting. Such is the exact and geometrically precise nature of the circle. It has been described by archaeologists who worked on the project as ‘a masterpiece of engineering’. 

Indeed, 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.”

Long recognised on old maps as an ancient British Village, Durrington Walls’ true importance only became apparent in the late 1960s when the road through it was realigned on a straighter path. You can see the line of the old, smaller, road in the aerial photo running to the left of the new road.

The incredible story unfolded in characteristic fashion. Initially, archaeologists thought the large pits were simple watering holes designed to slake the thirst of livestock. But when they investigated further, using cutting edge radar, they discovered that the holes were far too deep for this purpose.

A combination of techniques were then used to unfold the fascinating reality. Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, said: “The Hidden Landscape team have combined cutting-edge, archaeological fieldwork with good old-fashioned detective work to reveal this extraordinary discovery and write a whole new chapter in the story of the Stonehenge landscape.”

The discovery only accentuates the sheer scale of neolithic intrigue hosted by the landscape of Wessex. Hopefully there will be many more discoveries in the years to come and the lives of our ancient ancestors will become even clearer to us.

Relevant Stonehenge News:

Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge – THE GUARDIAN
Archaeologists Discover Enormous Ring of Ancient Pits Near Stonehenge – SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE
‘Astonishing discovery’ near Stonehenge led by University of Bradford archaeologists offers new insight into Neolithic ancestors – BRADFORD UNIVERSITY
A hole new ‘Stonehenge’! New prehistoric monument dating back 4,500 years made up of 15ft-deep shafts in a mile-wide circle is discovered in English countryside – THE DAILY MAIL
Giant circle of shafts discovered close to Stonehenge – ABC NEWS
Tour company specialising in guided tours of Stonehenge and the surronding landscape – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Archaeologists discover ‘astonishing’ huge circular neolithic monument next to Stonehenge – THE INDEPENDENT
Durrington Walls, Stonehenge Landscape walk – THE NATIONAL TRUST
Neolithic monument unearthed near Stonehenge in ‘astonishing’ archaeological discovery – THE METRO
HIDDEN HENGE Stonehenge – Neolithic stone circle dating back 4,500 years discovered just miles from site – THE SUN
Durrington Walls: The largest henge monument in Britain – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Salisbury based tour operator offering guided walks and tours of the Stonehenge landsacpe – STONEHENGE AND SALIBURY GUIDED TOURS
Durrington Walls: The largest henge monument in Britain – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Durrington Walls Dig: August 2016 – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
The Blick Mead excavations have transformed the understanding of the Stonehenge landscape. – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

 

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