Fundraising Event: A talk by Mike Parker Pearson ‘Stonehenge and Durrington Walls: new research’

18 09 2016

Archaeological excavations are being carried out in 2016 at Durrington Walls and in Preseli, to shed yet more light on the mystery of Stonehenge and its stones. Was there a ‘superhenge‘ of standing sarsen stones at Durrington Walls that dwarfed Stonehenge?

mppWas Stonehenge itself actually a ‘secondhand monument’, built from bluestones brought from an earlier monument in west Wales? New advances in scientific methods, both in the field and in the laboratory, are also helping archaeologists find out more about the people who built Stonehenge, how they lived and why they went to such effort to build this remarkable structure.

Join Mike Parker Pearson for an evening lecture to hear about the latest exciting developments in Stonehenge’s story.

Salisbury Museum: Thursday, October 13th, 2016 – 18:30 to 20:00
Booking required. Please contact the museum.~

The Stonehenge News Blog

Durrington Walls Dig: August 2016

3 08 2016

Over the course of the last six years a team of archaeologists from across Europe led by Professor Vince Gaffney of Bradford University have been carrying out a series of cutting-edge geophysical surveys across an area approaching 10 square kilometres in the Stonehenge landscape.

They’ve made dozens of new discoveries, some of them entirely new sites. But one of the most astonishing things they’ve found is that something – in fact a whole series of somethings – lie buried beneath the 4,500 year old bank of Durrington Walls henge. Their surveys revealed an arc of large solid anomalies, some over two metres long. But the question was what were they?

Durrington 20160802

There was only one way to find out and that  was to dig. Which is why the combined forces of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, the Hidden Landscapes team and the National Trust are digging at Durrington Walls this August.

At the start of our  dig our best guesses were that they could be one of two things.

  1. they might be the remains of standing stones – now lying flat OR
  2. they might be pits dug to hold giant timber posts but then backfilled, similar to some unearthed by Professor Mike Parker Pearson and the multi-university Stonehenge Riverside Project near the southern entrance of the henge.

Durrington 1st post pit

The work has progressed incredibly quickly and we’ve already been able to answer the first part of our conundrum. We have what appears to be one very definite pit (in the picture above) and another taking shape on the opposite side of the trench.

Antler tine

Right next to the pit lay an antler tine. It needs to be cleaned and studied more closely but it may be the tip of an antler pick – and could be one of the tools used to dig the pit itself.  Our dig team have been going great guns with their modern steel pick axes – I’m not sure they would be so quite so keen if they had to use one of these. But our henge builders were made of sterner stuff – the whole of the massive henge bank and ditch was dug with antler picks.

Article source:

The Stonehenge News Blog




Stonehenge Riverside Project. A film from the AHRC

16 05 2015

This film from the AHRC is the latest in our specially commissioned series which celebrates the AHRC’s 10th anniversary. This film looks back to the year 2007 and the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

Led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, the Stonehenge Riverside Project brought together academics from around the globe in one of the largest field archaeology research studies of the 21st Century.

The project set out to further understanding of Stonehenge and neighbouring complex, Durrington Walls. The project looked at the sites in the context of the surrounding landscape, and in doing so several remarkable discoveries were made including a new stone circle dubbed, ‘Bluehenge.’ The discovery catapulted the project to the forefront of the world‘s media and made front page of newspapers all over the world.


The Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge was built on solstice axis, dig confirms

9 09 2013

English Heritage excavations show site has nothing to do with sun worshipping, and find evidence circle was once complete

Archeologists found ridges, formed by Ice Age meltwater, that align Stonehenge with the solstice axis. Photograph: Francis Dean/Rex

Archeologists found ridges, formed by Ice Age meltwater, that align Stonehenge with the solstice axis. Photograph: Francis Dean/Rex

English Heritage says it has discovered a “missing piece in the jigsaw” in our understanding of Stonehenge, England’s greatest prehistoric site. Excavations  along the ancient processional route to the monument have confirmed the theory that it was built along an ice age landform that happened to be on the solstice axis.

The Avenue was an earthwork route that extended 1.5 miles from the north-eastern entrance to Wiltshire’s standing stones to the River Avon at West Amesbury. Following the closure of the A344 road, which cut across the route, archaeologists have been able to excavate there for the first time.

Just below the tarmac, they have found naturally occurring fissures that once lay between ridges against which prehistoric builders dug ditches to create the Avenue. The ridges were created by Ice Age meltwater that happen to point directly at the mid-winter sunset in one direction and the mid-summer sunrise in the other.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, a leading expert on Stonehenge, said: “It’s hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they [prehistoric people] were so interested in the solstices. It’s not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it’s about how this place was special to prehistoric people.

“This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one. So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land.”

The findings back theories that emerged in 2008 following exploration of a narrow trench across the Avenue. Parker Pearson said: “This is the confirmation. It’s being able to see the big picture.”

Dr Heather Sebire, English Heritage’s Stonehenge curator, said: “The part of the Avenue that was cut through by the road has obviously been destroyed forever, but we were hopeful that archaeology below the road would survive. And here we have it: the missing piece in the jigsaw. It is very exciting to find a piece of physical evidence that officially makes the connection which we were hoping for.”

The excavation was conducted by Wessex Archaeology for English Heritage.

The A344 will be grassed over next year as part of English Heritage’s £27m transformation of the World Heritage Site, which receives more than 1m visitors annually. There will be a new visitor centre, 1.5 miles away out of sight, to allow Stonehenge to reconnect with the surrounding landscape.

Sebire, who likens the Avenue to The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace, said that the latest findings should prompt vigorous academic debate.

The excavations have also uncovered three holes where missing stones would have stood on the outer sarsen circle, evidence, it is believed, that the circle was indeed once complete. Surprisingly, even the most sophisticated surveys failed to spot them. Two members of staff noticed dry areas of grass, or parchmarks.

Susan Greaney, an English Heritage historian, said: “The discovery … has certainly strengthened the case for it being a full circle.”

Asked why no one noticed them until now, Parker Pearson said: “The problem is we’ve not had a decent dry summer in many years. Stonehenge is always regularly watered, and the only reason these have shown up is because – for some reason this year – their hose was too short … So we’re very lucky.”

Article source: : The Guardian:

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog  

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