New theory over Stonehenge origins

18 02 2018

THE community that built the Neolithic causewayed enclosure at Larkhill may have been the architects of the Stonehenge landscape, archaeologists believe.

New theory over Stonehenge origins A Beaker or Bronze Age infant burial site at Larkhill. Picture by Wessex Archaeology

The causewayed enclosure, which dates between 3650 to 3750 BC – pre-dating Stonehenge by 600 years, was uncovered by archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology in 2016.

Si Cleggett, project manager and archaeologist at Wessex Archaeology now believes the community who built the causewayed enclosure may have been more closely involved in the planning of Stonehenge than previously thought.

He said: “The causewayed enclosure at Larkhill was constructed during the late Stone Age, a period of transition when our ancestors gradually moved away from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle and embraced a farming existence where the domestication of livestock and control of agriculture began.”

Causewayed enclosures are believed to be meeting places, centres of trade and cult or ritual centres to name but a few. They are only 70 known examples.

The Wessex Archaeology teams were commissioned by WYG on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to undertake excavations on land adjacent to Royal Artillery Larkhill. The land, on the edge of Salisbury Plainand, immediately north of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, has been earmarked for the provision of service family accommodation under the Army Basing Programme.

Archaeologists believe there was a five post alignment at the entrance of the causewayed enclosure which were positioned almost identically to the stones of Stonehenge.

Mr Cleggett said: “The communities who gathered at the Larkhill causewayed enclosure during the Early Neolithic were there 600 years before the landscape setting of Stonehenge was conceived and may have been involved in the conceptualisation or even the creation of the landscape we see today.

“It is enormously fitting that thousands of years later, those that strive to protect our identity as a nation will again meet at Larkhill through the delivery of service family housing.”

The Larkhill site, which is 24 hectares, is the largest open area archaeological excavation ever undertaken in proximity to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Article Source: Katy Griffin – Salisbury Journal

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Prehistoric Enclosure Found Near Stonehenge

3 02 2018

LARKHILL, ENGLAND —According to a report in The Guardian, a team led by Si Cleggett

England-Larkhill-alignment

Wessex Archaeology

of Wessex Archaeology has uncovered a series of nine post holes in a causewayed enclosure they say matches the orientation of the circle at Stonehenge. The site is located a short walk from Stonehenge, and dates to between 3750 and 3650 B.C., or about 600 years before a circular ditch and timber posts were first installed at the Stonehenge site. Cleggett suggests the people who built the enclosure at Larkhill may have been the architects of the Stonehenge landscape. “That nine-post alignment could be an early blueprint for the laying out of the stones at Stonehenge,” he said. For more, go to “The Square Inside Avebury’s Circles.”

 

An exhibition at the site gives fresh insight into the builders of Stonehenge, showcasing research that suggests animals were brought from as far afield as northern Scotland to feed the engineers and for lavish midwinter feasts.

The Larkhill dig, which is taking place because the land is being cleared for military housing, has also unearthed some fascinating 20th-century history.

REad the article in the Archaeological Magazine

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New discoveries rewrite Stonehenge landscape

29 11 2016

Archaeologists have found new evidence that rewrites the history of the Stonehenge landscape.  One of the newly-discovered sites even predates the construction of the world famous monument itself.

arrow-stones

FASCINATING FINDS: Flint arrow heads give a secure early Neolithic date

The remains, found at Larkhill and Bulford, were unearthed during excavations being carried out before the building of a series of brand new Army houses.

At Larkhill, the discovery of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure – a major ceremonial gathering place some 200 meters in diameter – dating from around 3650 BC radically changes our view of the Stonehenge landscape. About 70 enclosures of this type are known across the UK, although this is only the second discovery in the Stonehenge landscape, with the other further to the northwest at Robin Hood’s Ball on the Salisbury Plain Training Area. In the Wessex region they occur on hilltops and, along with long barrows, are some of the earliest built structures in the British landscape.

FASCINATING FINDS – 700 yrs older than Stonehenge:

The Larkhill enclosure has produced pottery, worked flint, a saddle quern, animal bone and human skull fragments, all placed in the ditches which define the enclosure. Sites of this type were used for temporary settlement, to exchange animals and other goods, for feasting and other ritual activity, including the disposal of the dead. The objects found in the ditches reflect these ceremonial practices. The Larkhill causewayed enclosure is around 700 years older than Stonehenge and is part of a landscape that included other large earth and timber structures such as long barrows and cursus monuments. Its builders shaped the landscape into which the stone circle at Stonehenge was placed, which was already special long before Stonehenge was constructed. The causewayed enclosure at Larkhill shows that they had the social organisation necessary to come together to create significant earthworks, and the resources to support the work, as well as the people to carry it out.

Dr Matt Leivers of Wessex Archaeology told Spire FM

“This is an exciting new find and one that transforms our understanding of this important monumental landscape.”

While part of the site has been investigated, the majority of it lies within the Larkhill Garrison, where it remains unaffected by the current works.

LOOK – PHOTOS: There are more pictures of the finds in the mini gallery below…

UNIQUE DOUBLE HENGE:

At nearby Bulford, archaeologists have found a unique double henge, the only example known in Britain. The earliest phases were created around 2900 BC with circular enclosures formed by ditches dug in segments with openings to the north. In the Early Bronze Age (around 2000 BC) both henges were enclosed within continuous ditches, and perhaps buried beneath barrow mounds. From one of the Bulford henges a skull from a large dog or wolf, perhaps a working companion, a trophy from the hunt, or even a totemic symbol, was recovered.

Martin Brown, Principal Archaeologist for WYG told Spire FM:

“These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular. The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit: They were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world. It is an enormous privilege to hold their tools and investigate their lives.”

ARMY HOUSING WORKS CONTINUE:

Archaeological work on both sites is being managed and directed by WYG on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), with fieldwork undertaken by Wessex Archaeology.

The sites’ development is part of wider plans to accommodate the 4000 additional Service personnel plus their families who will be based on and around Salisbury Plain by 2019 under the Army Basing Programme. In total, the MOD is planning to invest more than £1 billion in the area which will provide more than 900 new homes for Service families, over 2,600 new bed spaces for single soldiers and the construction, conversion or refurbishment of 250 other buildings within bases, such as offices, garages, workshops and Mess facilities.

Find out more about WYG and the work at Bulford and Larkhill here: www.wyg.com

Read the full story (source) on the SPIRE FM website

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Stonehenge Debate: Mike Parker Pearson at the British Academy – 9th November 2015

2 11 2015

The CBA will be hosting a debate on the future management options for the landscape around Stonehenge – including the options for the road tunnel – at their Annual General Meeting on 9th November in London.

Mike Parker Pearson has been invited to give the 2015 Beatrice de Cardi Lecture at the British Academy on 9th November 2015.  The eminent scholar and archaeologist presentation will draw together years of groundbreaking research to share new interpretations of the iconic prehistoric site of Stonehenge and the landscape in which it sits.

Mike’s lecture will be preceded by a debate on the future management of the Stonehenge landscape, the CBA’s Annual General Meeting and presentation of the 2015 Marsh archaeology awards.

The event is free but registration is essential. Tickets are available now via Eventbrite or may be booked on 01904 671417 (during office hours).

Beatrice de Cardi was first Assistant Secretary and latterly Secretary of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) from 1949 to 1973. In order to recognise her outstanding contribution to the CBA and to the archaeology discipline, the Council decided in 1976 to inaugurate a series of lectures, to be called after her. The speakers are given the freedom to discuss their own approach to any aspect of British archaeology.

The CBA headquarters in York was renamed ‘Beatrice de Cardi House’ in honour of her 100th birthday in 2014.

The Council for British Archaeology has taken a long-standing interest in the presentation and long-term preservation of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site – a unique cultural landscape.

Details of our engagement and the development of the CBA’s view can be found on our Stonehenge Saga archive web page, which includes the summary of our case to the 2004 roads inquiry.

The CBA broadly supports the position of ICOMOS UK which seeks to “achieve a solution which respects and maintains the Outstanding Universal Value of this iconic, important and unique site at the earliest opportunity”.

CBA Director, Dr Mike Heyworth MBE said:

“Stonehenge is arguably the best known prehistoric monument in the world and we must think hard before we cause irreversible damage to the landscape surrounding it – which contains many nationally important archaeological features which are not yet fully understood.

There are potential benefits from a tunnel to bury the A303 in the area of Stonehenge, but any proposals need to carefully scrutinised and we need to think of the long term implications, not just the short term needs.”

Join the debate on future options

The CBA will be hosting a debate on the future management options for the landscape around Stonehenge – including the options for the road tunnel – at our Annual General Meeting on 9 November in London.

The event is free but registration is essential. Tickets are available now via Eventbrite or may be booked on 01904 671417 (during office hours).

LINKS:
http://new.archaeologyuk.org/news/stonehenge-debate
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/people/staff/parker_pearson

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Barbeque-style roasting. The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

15 10 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls — a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the builders of nearby Stonehenge during the 25th century BC.

A reconstruction drawing of how the prehistoric village of Durrington Walls  might have looked in 2500BC [Credit: English Heritage]

A reconstruction drawing of how the prehistoric village of Durrington Walls might have looked in 2500BC [Credit: English Heritage]

Together with researchers at the University of Sheffield, detailed analysis of pottery and animal bones has uncovered evidence of organised feasts featuring barbeque-style roasting, and an unexpected pattern in how foods were distributed and shared across the site.

Chemically analysing food residues remaining on several hundred fragments of pottery, the York team found differences in the way pots were used. Pots deposited in residential areas were found to be used for cooking animal products including pork, beef and dairy, whereas pottery from the ceremonial spaces was used predominantly for dairy.

Such spatial patterning could mean that milk, yoghurts and cheeses were perceived as fairly exclusive foods only consumed by a select few, or that milk products — today often regarded as a symbol of purity — were used in public ceremonies.

Unusually, there was very little evidence of plant food preparation at any part of the site. The main evidence points to mass animal consumption, particularly of pigs. Further analysis of animal bones, conducted at the University of Sheffield, found that many pigs were killed before reaching their maximum weight. This is strong evidence of planned autumn and winter slaughtering and feasting-like consumption.

The main methods of cooking meat are thought to be boiling and roasting in pots probably around indoor hearths, and larger barbeque-style roasting outdoors — the latter evidenced by distinctive burn patterns on animal bones.

Bones from all parts of the animal skeleton were found, indicating that livestock was walked to the site rather than introduced as joints of meat. Isotopic analysis indicates that cattle originated from many different locations, some far away from the site. This is significant as it would require orchestration of a large number of volunteers likely drawn from far and wide. The observed patterns of feasting do not fit with a slave-based society where labour was forced and coerced, as some have suggested.

Dr Oliver Craig, Reader in Archaeological Science at the University of York and lead author on the paper, said: “Evidence of food-sharing and activity-zoning at Durrington Walls shows a greater degree of culinary organisation than was expected for this period of British prehistory. The inhabitants and many visitors to this site possessed a shared understanding of how foods should be prepared, consumed and disposed. This, together with evidence of feasting, suggests Durrington Walls was a well-organised working community.”

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, Professor at University College London and Director of the Feeding Stonehenge project who also led the excavations at Durrington Walls, said: “This new research has given us a fantastic insight into the organisation of large-scale feasting among the people who built Stonehenge. Animals were brought from all over Britain to be barbecued and cooked in open-air mass gatherings and also to be eaten in more privately organized meals within the many houses at Durrington Walls.

“The special placing of milk pots at the larger ceremonial buildings reveals that certain products had a ritual significance beyond that of nutrition alone. The sharing of food had religious as well as social connotations for promoting unity among Britain’s scattered farming communities in prehistory. ”

Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito, who analysed the pottery samples and recently joined Newcastle University, added: “The combination of pottery analysis with the study of animal bones is really effective, and shows how these different types of evidence can be brought together to provide a detailed picture of food and cuisine in the past.”

The study has been published in the Antiquity Journal.
Source: University of York [October 12, 2015]

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Stonehenge researchers ‘may have found largest prehistoric site’

7 09 2015
Standing stones found buried near Stonehenge could be the “largest” intact prehistoric monument ever built in Britain, archaeologists believe.Large stones at Durrington Walls
The large stones are located around the edge of the henge at Durrington Walls (Image copyrigh Ludwig Boltzmann Institute)

Using ground-penetrating radar, some 100 stones were found at the Durrington Walls “superhenge”, a later bank built close to Stonehenge.

The Stonehenge Living Landscapes team has been researching the ancient monument site in a five-year project.

Finding the stones was “fantastically lucky”, researchers said.

The stones may have originally measured up to 4.5m (14ft) in height and had been pushed over the edge of Durrington Walls.

The site, which is thought to have been built about 4,500 years ago, is about 1.8 miles (3km) from Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

The stones were found on the edge of the Durrington Walls “henge”, or bank, an area which had not yet been studied by researchers.

Large stones at Durrington Walls
The stones could have measured up to 4.5m in height (Image copyright Ludwig Boltzmann Institute)

Lead researcher, Vince Gaffney said the stones were “lost to archaeology” but found thanks to modern technology.

National Trust archaeologist, Dr Nick Snashall said there were “hints” the stones could be buried in the landscape.

“In the field that lies to the south we know there’s a standing stone which is now the only standing stone, now fallen, that you can go up to and touch in the whole of the Stonehenge landscape,” he said.

“It’s called the Cuckoo Stone.

“If there are stones beneath the bank… they’re probably looking at stones of pretty much the same size as the Cuckoo Stone.”

Radar scanning at Durrington Walls, Wiltshire
Ground-penetrating radar was used to detect the large stones at Durrington Walls (Image copyright Geert Verhoeven)

Dr Snashall added there was a “sense” of an area set aside for the living and another for the dead at Durrington Walls – and that had changed over time.

“This gives us a a whole new phase that shows us that has started within 40 years of the site going out of use, or even less than that,” he said.

The findings are being announced later on the first day of the British Science Festival being held at the University of Bradford.

Large stones at Durrington Walls
The row of stones were standing over the edge of the bank of the henge (Image copyright Ludwig Boltzmann Institute)

Source and full story : BBC Wiltshire

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Pre-history may have to be re-written due to groundbreaking finds by Stonehenge team

2 11 2014

Pre-history may have to be re-written following a recent dig by university students near Stonehenge.

Senior research fellow David Jacques

Senior research fellow David Jacques

Signs of human habitation 8,000 years ago have been discovered by Archaeology MA students from the University of Buckingham, led by senior research fellow David Jacques.

Mr Jacques said: “This year we’ve found burnt flint – a sign that people had made fires, so were in the area, around 8,000 years ago.

“The finds will have to be carbon-dated to get a precise date.

“It’s been wonderful that the first ever University of Buckingham archaeology students have unearthed mesolithic tools as part of the team of volunteers at the dig.”

The archaeologist, who is leading the new Archaeology MA course at the university, has just completed a two-week dig at Vespasian’s Camp, a mile from Stonehenge, at which MA students and University of Buckingham staff worked as volunteers, sifting through remains.

A number of ancient flint tools were among the finds.

More than 12,000 items from the mesolithic era (8000 – 3500BC) have been uncovered, including hunting tools, the cooked bones of aurochs – a gigantic cow-like animal – deer, wild boar, and even toads’ legs.

The finds have revealed that the site was in use continually for over 3,000 years, and could even be the reason why Stonehenge is where it is.

Mr Jacques suspects the site will contain evidence of settlements, which would be some of the earliest ever found in the UK and would completely change our understanding of this era.

Mr Jacques appeared on TV this year in BBC 1’s Operation Stonehenge and BBC 4’s The Flying Archaeologist.

And the MA students working alongside him at the dig a fortnight ago found themselves being filmed for a forthcoming episode of Horizon.

Digs at the site over the last few years have already yielded a staggering 32,000 artefacts dating from as far back as 7500BC.

Last year, the dig resulted in 8,000-year-old burnt frogs’ legs being found, revealing the delicacy was originally English and not French.

Earlier this year, carbon dating of finds from the dig led to the revelation that Amesbury is the oldest town in the country.

A previous public lecture by Mr Jacques at the university drew a packed audience.

Following the latest dig, Mr Jacques is returning to deliver another public lecture on Thursday, November 13.

The free event will take place at 6.30pm, in the Chandos Road Building, as part of the university’s autumn concert and lecture series.

In the lecture, Mr Jacques will unveil startling new evidence showing how the mesolithic period influenced the building of Stonehenge.

The lecture will focus on the area around the dig, Blick Mead, which features a natural spring, which would have attracted settlers to the area.

The warm spring water has caused stones to turn a bright puce, a colour of stone not found elsewhere in the UK.

David Jacques was elected a Fellow of the Society of the Antiquaries (FSA) in recognition of the importance of his discoveries there.
Link Source:

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