Stonehenge’s Builders May Have Feasted on Mince Pies and Sweet Treats

2 12 2021

Excavations near the iconic English monument revealed traces of fruits and nuts.

  • Excavation work has been led by English Heritage at Durrington Walls, Wiltshire
  • Durrington Walls was inhabited by the builders of Stonehenge in about 2,500 BC
  • Evidence suggests traces of hazelnuts, sloes, apples and other fruits at the site 

Previously it was thought they had consumed pork, beef and dairy.

But excavations of the Durrington Walls settlement, inhabited by the builders of the monument in about 2,500 BC, suggest they collected and cooked hazelnuts, sloes and crab apples too.

Researchers said evidence of charred plant remains suggest they might have followed recipes to preserve the food.

There was no direct evidence for pastry being used, but people knew how to grow cereal crops and could have made pastry from wheat, hazelnut or acorn flour, English Heritage said.

Neolithic “mince pies” could have been baked on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire using a flat stone or ceramic pot heated in the embers of a fire, much like a Welsh cake, it added.

Travelers visiting Stonehenge this month can sample a dish that may have been enjoyed by the monument’s builders some 4,500 years ago. As Alex Green reports for PA Media, volunteers with English Heritage, the organization that cares for the prehistoric site, are cooking up mince pies with ingredients used by these Neolithic workers, including hazelnuts and crab apples.

‘We know that midwinter and feasting were really important to the builders of Stonehenge,’ said Susan Greaney, the charity’s senior properties historian.

‘Thanks to the Stonehenge Riverside Project, we’re lucky to have evidence which tells us that they had access to nutritious fruit and nuts, and that they may even have made and cooked recipes.’  

Durrington Walls is two miles (3.2 km) north-east of Stonehenge, but it’s located within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Earlier this month, a a series of deep pits which were discovered at Durrington Walls last year were confirmed as having been made by ancient Britons – after some experts dismissed them as mere natural features.

The 20 pits, which are more than 30 feet across and 16 feet deep, are arranged in a circle shape around Durrington Walls.  

Stonehenge Relevant Links
Rock cakes? Stonehenge builders may have enjoyed mince pies – The Guardian
Stonehenge builders fuelled themselves on sweet treats including ‘Neolithic mince pies’, excavation suggests – Daily Mail
NEOLITHIC MINCE PIE RECIPE: Download open fire mince pie recipe card. English Heritage
Stonehenge’s Builders May Have Feasted on Sweet Treats – The Smithsonian
Visit Stonehenge and sample a mince pie – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Stonehenge builders had a sweet tooth, artefacts suggest – BBC News
Stonehenge builders fuelled themselves on sweet treats, excavation suggests – The Evening Standard
Private Guided Stonehenge Tours with the local experts – The Stonehenge Travel Company

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