‘Astonishing’ huge circular Neolithic monument discovered near Stonehenge

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Recent fieldwork and analysis have revealed evidence for 20 or more massive shafts at Durrington Walls, measuring more than 10 metres in diameter and 5 metres deep. These shafts form a circle that encloses an area greater than 3 square kilometres around the Durrington Walls henge, itself one of Britain’s largest henge monuments, and the famous, smaller prehistoric circle at Woodhenge.

Coring of the shafts provided radiocarbon dates suggesting these features are Neolithic and were excavated more than 4500 years ago, around the time that Durrington Walls was constructed. The dates, though, varied widely: up to 6000BC for some of the shells and around 1300BC for some bones. Luminescence profiling provided an answer: showing which of the shafts contained re-worked, or re-deposited materials, and those that contained in tact sediment accumulations.

Research at Durrington was undertaken by a consortium of archaeologists led by the University of Bradford as part of the Stonehenge Hidden landscape Project, and with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, the universities of Birmingham, St Andrews, Warwick, Trinity Saint David (university of Wales), and the SUERC (University of Glasgow)

Full details are provided in the open access article: Internet Archaeology 55 10.11141/ia.55.4

  • How illuminating: measuring luminescence helps to date a remarkable new discovery at Stonehenge. The Economist, 11th July 2020
  • Stonehenge: Neolithic Monument found near sacred site. BBC News, 22 June 2020

 

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