History is set to be rewritten after an archaeology team led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria discovered a major ceremonial monument less than one kilometre away from the iconic Stonehenge.
The incredible find has been hailed by Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University’s IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre, as one of the most significant yet for those researching the UK’s most important prehistoric structure.
The new henge was uncovered this week, just two weeks into a three-year international study that forms part of the multi-million Euro international Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.
The project aims to map 14 square kilometres of the Stonehenge Landscape using the latest geophysical imaging techniques, to recreate visually the iconic prehistoric monument and its surroundings and transform how we understand this unique landscape and its monuments.
“This finding is remarkable,” Professor Gaffney said. “It will completely change the way we think about the landscape around Stonehenge.
“People have tended to think that as Stonehenge reached its peak it was the paramount monument, existing in splendid isolation.
“This discovery is completely new and extremely important in how we understand Stonehenge and its landscape.”
The new “henge-like” Late Neolithic monument is believed to be contemporaneous to Stonehenge and appears to be on the same orientation as the World Heritage Site monument. It comprises a segmented ditch with opposed north-east/south-west entrances that are associated with internal pits that are up to one metre in diameter and could have held a free-standing, timber structure.
Oh man, I love this stuff. I've been to Stonehenge a few times, including when you were still able to walk among the stones. (It's good to be old.) We've also visited Avebury and other neolithic sites in the UK.
The best neolithic sites we've seen were in Ireland - Newgrange and others in the Boyne valley. Newgrange is a passage tomb and a solstice site, much older than Stonehenge, and you can walk inside. But standing stones and stone circles are everywhere in Ireland. We would pull off the road to check out a stone circle now in someone's front yard.