‘Incredible’ Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge to be excavated: Open Day 15th July 2017

13 07 2017

A Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge could contain human remains more than 5,000 years old, experts say.

The monument in a place known as Cat’s Brain in Pewsey Vale, halfway between Avebury and Stonehenge in Wiltshire, was identified in aerial photographs.

cat

The site in a farmer’s field was identified in aerial photographs

Archaeologists and students from the University of Reading are due to excavate the site.

It is the first time such an archaeological site in the county has been excavated for 50 years.

The site is made up of two ditches and an apparent central building, which may have been covered by a mound, that has now been flattened due to centuries of ploughing.

The site, in the middle of a farmer’s field, was assessed in a geophysical survey. It is believed it could contain human remains buried there in about 3,600 BC.

‘Incredible discovery’

Dr Jim Leary, director of the university’s archaeology field school, said: “Opportunities to fully investigate long barrows are virtually unknown in recent times and this represents a fantastic chance to carefully excavate one using the very latest techniques and technology.

“Discovering the buried remains of what could be the ancestors of those who built Stonehenge would be the cherry on the cake of an amazing project.”

Dr Leary’s co-director, Amanda Clarke, said: “This incredible discovery of one of the UK’s first monuments offers a rare glimpse into this important period in history.

“We are setting foot inside a significant building that has lain forgotten and hidden for thousands of years.”

Members of the public will be able to visit the site to see the archaeologists at work during an open day on Saturday.  Note: Reading University Field School Open Day, Saturday 15th July 2017

Nearest Town: Pewsey
Map Ref: SU1185057889
Latitude: 51.319986N  Longitude: 1.831342W

Source: BBC

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Bronze Age burial near Stonehenge discovered by badger

9 02 2016

A Bronze Age cremation burial has been discovered near Stonehenge after being accidentally dug up by a badger.

bronze-age-find

An archer’s wrist guard and shaft straighteners were among the objects discovered

Objects found in a burial mound at Netheravon, Wiltshire, include a bronze saw, an archer’s wrist guard, a copper chisel and cremated human remains.

Experts believe the burial may have been that of an archer or a person who made archery equipment.

The artefacts date back to 2,200-2,000BC, senior archaeologist Richard Osgood, of the MOD, said.

The burial mound, about five miles north of Stonehenge, lies on MOD land.

Mr Osgood, from the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said it was “an exciting find”.

“It was utterly unexpected. These are wonderful artefacts from the early Bronze Age, about 2,200-2,000 BC,” he said.

wilts-map

Other archaeological finds in Wiltshire:

1. Bronze Age burial discovered by a badger

2. Soldiers uncover 27 ancient bodies at Barrow Clump on Salisbury Plain

3. Researchers find large Neolithic site at Durrington Walls

4. Stonehenge dig finds 6,000-year-old encampment at Blick Mead

5. Bronze Age child’s skeleton discovered at Wilsford henge

6. Bronze Age jewellery discovered in a Wiltshire field

7. Iron Age woman’s footless body found near West Knoyle

8. Bronze Age hoard found near Tisbury


Also among the finds were shaft straighteners for straightening arrows, and pieces of pottery.

Mr Osgood said the badger had dug out the cremation urn and sherds of pottery were lying on the surface when they were spotted.

A full archaeological dig was then carried out on the site.

Mr Osgood said: “There are badger setts in quite a few scheduled monuments – the actions of burrowing animals is one of the biggest risks to archaeology in Britain – but to bring out items of this quality from one hole is unusual.

“We would never have known these objects were in there, so there’s a small part of me that is quite pleased the badger did this… but it probably would have been better that these things had stayed within the monument where they’d resided for 4,000 years.”

Injured military personnel and veterans helped to excavate the site.

The items are due to be put on display at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes later this year.

Read the full story (source) on the BBC website

The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge burials show ‘surprising degree’ of gender equality

3 02 2016

A new study of prehistoric bones discovered at Stonehenge has found around half belonged to women.

In 2008 archaeologists first explored the site in Wiltshire examining the cremated remains of some 200 adults.

Researchers said their findings showed a “surprising degree of gender equality” despite artists portraying prehistoric man as in charge of the site “with barely a woman in sight”.

The findings are reported in the magazine British Archaeology.

Stonehenge digImage copyrightAdam Stanford
Most of the material dug up in the 1920s from the periphery of the stones was reburied in Aubrey Hole seven (seen excavated in 2008)

The study showed the finding are important because burial at Stonehenge was likely to have been reserved for selected people of higher status.

It also contrasts with the evidence from older Neolithic tombs in southern Britain, with their higher ratios of adult males to females.

Stonehenge digImage copyright Mike Pitts
Some 45kg (99lbs) of bone fragments were recovered

Christie Willis, a PhD student at University College London and an expert on human remains, sorted through some 45kg (99lbs)of bone fragments.

Her task was to identify which part of the skeleton each fragment came from and to then establish the age and sex of the remains.

Ms Willis said the samples had originally been place in a series of Aubrey Holes around the periphery of the site – which were originally excavated in the 1920s by William Hawley.

“These were dug up and reburied in Aubrey Hole seven with the hope that one day there would be a breakthrough to allow them to be analysed.

Stonehenge digImage copyright Adam Stanford
The archaeologists said their work had taken four years in total

“Because of this the fragments have become co-mingled – or mixed up – which is why the work has taken so long.”

The fragments were also sent to universities in Oxford and Glasgow to be radiocarbon-dated.

Researchers at Teeside University also looked at how hot the cremation fires were, and how long the bones were in there for.

Article Source: BBC NEWS

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Archaeologists Feud Over Second-Hand Stonehenge Theory

15 12 2015

The ink wasn’t even dry (or the bits weren’t even embedded in the Cloud) yet on the 2 Comments about a new theory that Stonehenge once stood in Wales before being moved to Wiltshire when a cry rose up from other archaeologists who claim that it was glaciers, not humans, that pushed the monoliths to their current resting place in Wiltshire. Who’s right, who’s wrong and what’s the betting line on the fight?

Stonehenge-585x306

The feud started with a report last week in the journal Antiquity that archaeologists from University College London (UCL) identified two quarries in Wales that matched some of the bluestones at Stonehenge. The more controversial part of the report was their belief that the stones were made into a monument in Wales which stood for a few hundred years before being toppled and moved to England, making Stonehenge what some were sacrilegiously calling a “second-hand monument.”

Just a week later, Dr. Brian John, Dr. Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes thumbed their noses at their peers in a paper published in the journal Archaeology in Wales where they stated that there are “no traces of human intervention in any of the features that have made the archaeologists so excited.”

Path and distance the bluestones would have had to travel from Wales to Wiltshire

The stone of contention in this argument is foliated rhyolite debris – fragments of thinly-layered volcanic rock that were found at both sites, prompting the UCL team to declare that they came to Glastonbury with the bluestones from Wales. Dr. John’s team says the Irish Sea Glacier brought the foliated rhyolite debris (a great name for a heavy metal band) 500,000 years ago.

While Dr. John’s team agrees that the Welsh outcrops of Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin show signs of human campgrounds, there’s no evidence the Neolithic humans were quarrying monoliths and building a miniature Welsh Stonehenge. In fact, he suggests that the features the UCL team thought were evidence of quarry activity were actually made by the archaeologists themselves. As Dr. John eloquently puts it:

An expectation or conviction that ‘engineering features’ would be found has perhaps led to the unconscious fashioning of archaeological artifices.

Archaeologists at the site in Wales - are they finding evidence or creating their own?

Ouch! But Dr. John doesn’t stop there.

On the contrary, there is substantial evidence in favour of glacial transport and zero evidence in support of the human transport theory … We think the archaeologists have been so keen on telling a good story here that they have ignored or misinterpreted the evidence in front of them. That’s very careless. They now need to undertake a complete reassessment of the material they have collected.

Dr. John has taken the lead. Back to you, team from University College London.

Article by Paul Seaburn | Mysterious Universe

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Discovery of 5,000-year-old skull ‘in fabulous condition’ on side of river sparks mystery as archaeologists claim it would not have survived in water

1 09 2013
  • Skull is  believed to be of a middle aged woman living in 3,300 BC
  • Unbroken  skull found on the banks of the River Avon in Worcestershire
  • Carbon  dating technology places the piece between 3,338BC and 3,035  BC
  • The  ‘exceptional’ find suggests there is an undiscovered burial site  nearby

A 5,000-year-old human skull in ‘fabulous’  condition has been discovered on the banks of a river in Worcershire by a walker  who thought it was a coconut.

Remarkable discovery: Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist with Worcestershire Archaeology holds the 5,000-year-old skull which has baffled experts

Remarkable discovery: Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist with Worcestershire Archaeology holds the 5,000-year-old skull which has baffled experts

Experts said the piece of ancient skull is an  ‘exceptional find’ as the intricate marks  from blood vessels are still visible on the inner surface.

The smooth dark outer side gives only a  tantalising glimpse as to what the person may have looked like, although there  are ‘tentative’ suggestions it may have belonged to a woman in middle age living  in the Neolithic period – around the time Stonehenge was built.

The skull is not only prompting questions  about the person it belonged to, but where it may have come.

A dog walker first stumbled across the skull  piece, which is about 15cms (6ins) in length and 10cm (4ins) in width, earlier  this year but initially thought it was a ball or a coconut shell.

Detectives from West Mercia Police  investigated the scene and contacted experts at Worcestershire Archaeology, who  sent the skull to be radiocarbon dated.

‘When I first saw the skull, I thought it may  have been Anglo-Saxon or Roman but I knew that it was not recent due to the  colour,’ said Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist.

‘But we were all surprised when the  radiocarbon dating put it at between 3,338 BC and 3,035 BC, or about the middle  Neolithic period.’

‘It is so well preserved, it is unthinkable  that this had been in the river for any length of time which begs the question  as to where it has come from.

‘We know of Roman, Saxon and medieval burials  along the river, but this is very rare – it is an exceptional  find.

‘What it suggests is that we have a Neolithic  burial site very near here – we just don’t know where.’

He said: ‘I don’t think it was found where  the remains were buried, I think we’ve got a riverside burial and then flooding  has brought this down the river.

‘Finding that burial site though would be  like finding a needle in a haystack.’Who was neolithic man

Mr Daffern said that without the rest of the  skeleton it was difficult to draw conclusions about the person found, and  certainly there is no clue as to how they met their death.

‘Both myself and a forensic anthropologist  believe it is a woman due to the slightness of the skull and the lack of any  brow ridges although our conclusions are very tentative because we’re dealing  only with the top of a skull,’ he added.

‘There’s no trauma to the bone, and where it  has broken those are natural breaks, nor is there any sign of disease so we’ve  no idea as to cause of death.

‘The natural fusion of the bone in the skull  leads me to believe it may be an older woman, possibly in her 50s, but that is  very tentative again.

‘Unfortunately, it remains a bit of a  mystery.’

The find is a few miles from Bredon Hill,  which has been a scene of human activity down the ages and still boasts the  earthen ramparts of what was an Iron Age hill fort, however finds of Neolithic  remains are rare.

‘Whenever we come across Neolithic remains,  there seems to be a solid dividing line between where they buried their dead,  and where they lived and that is no accident,’ he said.

‘But it is frustrating as an archaeologist  because although we have the physical evidence, we still don’t have the answers  as to why.’

The skull is only the second set of Neolithic  remains to be found in the county, although two large 6,000-year-old ‘halls of  the dead’ were found in nearby Herefordshire this year but without any human  remains present.

Article source: By  Daily Mail Reporter – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2407337/Discovery-5-000-year-old-skull-fabulous-condition-sparks-mystery.html

Merlin @ Stonehenge
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