The origins of Stonehenge have lengthy been a thriller. Now new discoveries present that the enduring monument could have began as a stone circle in Wales that was then dismantled and rebuilt 280 kilometres away at its present location on Salisbury plain. That is the conclusion of a workforce of archaeologists who uncovered the stays of what seems to be Britain’s third-largest stone circle, within the Preseli hills of west Wales.
Stonehenge was in-built a number of completely different phases between about 3000 and 2000 BC, beginning with a big round ditch and financial institution along with a circle of 2-metre-high bluestones simply inside. Later, these bluestones have been moved, and greater buildings made out of boulders referred to as sarsens have been constructed.
In 2015, a workforce led by Mike Parker Pearson at College Faculty London revealed that the bluestones have been extracted from quarries within the Preseli hills, some 280 kilometres away in west Wales. The workforce then regarded for proof of stone monuments shut to those quarries, because the Neolithic individuals who extracted Stonehenge’s bluestones might need constructed stone circles right here too.
The archaeologists excavated at a web site referred to as Waun Mawn, which had 4 massive stones seemingly positioned in an arc. They uncovered proof of an extra six holes that every initially held a stone, indicating that there had as soon as been a stone circle with a big diameter on the web site.
“The arc did proceed – that was a very vital second,” says Parker Pearson. Extrapolating from these positions, the workforce estimates that the finished circle most likely had 30 to 50 stones, although organized extra haphazardly than the unique bluestone circle at Stonehenge.
A lot of strands of proof recommend that stones from Waun Mawn shaped a part of the unique stone circle at Stonehenge. Relationship research confirmed that the Waun Mawn stone circle was created between 3600 and 3200 BC, a couple of hundred years earlier than the primary levels of building at Stonehenge, and the sorts of stone on the two websites match.
One of many stone holes on the Welsh web site has an uncommon pentagonal form, related in form and measurement to that of bluestone 62 at Stonehenge. “It may have been in that gap. It’s not categorical proof, however it’s actually very suggestive,” says Parker Pearson.
The sizes of the 2 circles additionally match. “There are solely two Neolithic monuments in Britain with the identical diameter of 110 metres, and that’s the outer ditch of Stonehenge and the Waun Mawn diameter,” he says. Stonehenge is known for aligning with the midsummer solstice dawn, and the brand new proof at Waun Mawn suggests it had this alignment too.
“It’s a very attention-grabbing research that reveals some good arguments for a hyperlink between each stone circles,” says David Nash on the College of Brighton, UK, who wasn’t concerned with the excavations in Wales, however, who final yr revealed a research figuring out the origins of Stonehenge’s sarsens. For him, the clincher can be to conduct detailed geological evaluation of stone fragments discovered at Waun Mawn to see if they’re an identical to these discovered at Stonehenge.
Others are much less satisfied. “They’ve acquired a ragbag of stones and I’m relatively sceptical of it being a stone circle,” says Tim Darvill at Bournemouth College, UK, who has carried out many research of Stonehenge.
Additional excavations are deliberate at Waun Mawn to make clear the image. But when Stonehenge was rebuilt from a Welsh stone circle, this might assist clarify why Neolithic individuals went to such lengths to assemble the enduring megalithic monument. Research of the isotopes in cremated stays of the earliest individuals interred at Stonehenge point out that a few of them most likely got here from west Wales. This has led Parker Pearson to conclude that Stonehenge was constructed to commemorate the ancestors of the unique individuals who lived at Stonehenge.
The Welsh excavations additionally make clear the earliest story of the monument’s origins from 1136, when the chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote how Stonehenge was constructed from a dismantled stone circle in Eire. It appears this story had a grain of fact, says Parker Pearson.
Journal reference: Antiquity, DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2020.239
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