Red deer, wild boar and elk would have roamed the Stonehenge area 4,000 years before the stones were constructed, according to new research.

3 05 2022

Scientists examined a nearby Mesolithic site and found the area was not a forest as previously thought.

Instead they believe it would have been populated by grazing animals and hunter-gatherers.

Scientists from the University of Southampton have examined Blick Mead, a Mesolithic archaeological site about a mile away from Stonehenge.

The work has helped build a picture of the habitat at the Wiltshire site from up to the Neolithic period (4,000 BC).

Samuel Hudson, from the University of Southampton, explained: “There has been intensive study of the Bronze Age and Neolithic history of the Stonehenge landscape, but less is known about earlier periods.

“Past theories suggest the area was thickly wooded and cleared in later periods for farming and monument building.

“However, our research points to pre-Neolithic, hunting-gatherer inhabitants, living in open woodland which supported aurochs and other grazing herbivores.”

The research team analysed pollen, fungal spores and traces of DNA preserved in ancient sediment, combined with optically stimulated luminescence and radiocarbon dating to produce an environmental history of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“The study indicates that later Mesolithic populations at Blick Mead took advantage of more open conditions to repeatedly exploit groups of large ungulates (hoofed mammals), until a transition to farmers and monument-builders took place,” explained a university spokesman.

“In a sense, the land was pre-adapted for the later large-scale monument building, as it did not require clearance of woodland, due to the presence of these pre-existing open habitats.”

The findings of the team from Southampton, working with colleagues at the universities of Buckingham, Tromso and Salzburg, are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

RELEVANT STONEHENGE NEWS:
Stonehenge ‘built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar’ – BBC
New study reveals landscape 4,000 years before Stonehenge construction – HERITAGE DAILY
Stonehenge ‘built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar 4,000 years earlier’ – SALISBURY JOURNAL
Pre-Stonehenge Landscape Was Perfect for Hunter-Gatherers, Study Shows – ANCIENT ORIGINS
Visit Stonehenge with the megalithic experts and hear all the latest theories – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stonehenge ‘was built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar 4,000 years earlier’ – THE INDEPENDENT

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7 05 2022

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