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By Sophie Tanno For Mailonline. A team of archaeologists have discovered a major new prehistoric monument just a short distance away from Stonehenge. Fieldwork and analysis have revealed evidence of 20 or more massive prehistoric shafts – more than 10 metres in diameter and five metres deep – forming a circle more than two kilometres in diameter around the Durrington Walls henge. Coring of the shafts suggest the features are Neolithic and excavated more than 4, years ago – around the time Durrington Walls was built. It is thought the shafts served as a boundary to a sacred area or precinct associated with the henge. Professor Vince Gaffney, of the University of Bradford, said: ‘The area around Stonehenge is amongst the most studied archaeological landscapes on earth. Dr Richard Bates, of the university’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: ‘Yet again, the use of a multidisciplinary effort with remote sensing and careful sampling is giving us an insight to the past that shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine. Map pictured above. Tim Kinnaird, of the same school, said: ‘The sedimentary infills contain a rich and fascinating archive of previously unknown environmental information.

‘Astonishing’ giant circle of pits found near Stonehenge

The carbon-dating process that dated Stonehenge to about B. The University of Chicago professor developed radiocarbon dating in the late s and won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for it. When plants or animals die, they no longer exchange their carbon with fresh atoms from their environment.

Now, a new University of Oxford research collaboration, published in the research combined radiocarbon-dating with new developments in.

Located in Wiltshire and managed by English Heritage, the prehistoric site attracts more than one million tourists each year. But when was Stonehenge actually constructed? What was it used for? And why did Charles Darwin pay a visit in the s? Standing proud on Salisbury Plain in southern England, Stonehenge is one of the most iconic monuments in the world. Well over a million people visit the site every year and numbers are on the rise, especially since the opening of a new visitor centre.

Yet very little is really known about the structure; a complete absence of written material means that we can only speculate about its creation and significance. As a result, Stonehenge has been a constant source of conjecture, from the earliest recorded tourists to the present-day archaeologists and academics who work there. The site, as we see it, comprises a confusing jumble of stone uprights, some capped with lintels, together with their fallen compatriots, all set within a low, circular earthwork.


For centuries, historians and archaeologists have puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1, years to erect. Located in southern England, it is comprised of roughly massive upright stones placed in a circular layout. While many modern scholars now agree that Stonehenge was once a burial ground, they have yet to determine what other purposes it served and how a civilization without modern technology—or even the wheel—produced the mighty monument.

Its construction is all the more baffling because, while the sandstone slabs of its outer ring hail from local quarries, scientists have traced the bluestones that make up its inner ring all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some miles from where Stonehenge sits on Salisbury Plain.

Radiocarbon dating indicates that the quarry charcoal is about 5, years the bluestones into the region, the authors of the new study said.

Archaeologists working near Stonehenge in the UK have discovered part of a giant ring of deep shafts in the ground, thought to date back round 4, years. Originally, they may have been used to guide people to sacred sites Using a combination of techniques, including ground-penetrating radar and analysis of samples taken from the sites themselves, researchers have managed to find 20 of these pits, forming points along a circle that’s more than 2 kilometres 1.

According to the team, these are traces of a monument unlike anything we’ve seen before. At the centre of this circle sit the famous prehistoric sites of Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. Having been naturally filled in over the past few thousand years, the pits measure some 10 metres nearly 33 feet in diameter and over 5 metres more than 16 feet in depth. The shafts had previously been dismissed as sinkholes or dew ponds , but modern radar scanning techniques and magnetometry have shown how the original excavations went deep and straight into the ground.

The archaeologists think as many as 30 shafts might have been dug in total — only part of the circle has been discovered — but because of modern building development in the area, these 20 might be all that we’re able to identify. Bones and flint dug up from some of the shafts, as well as recovery of some of the sediment they’ve been filled in with, was used for radiocarbon dating. Less easy to establish is exactly how these pits were used, but there’s plenty of scope for future research now that the shafts have been identified.

Those insights include a new perspective on just how good at engineering the Neolithic locals around Salisbury Plain actually were, several millennia ago. There’s no way these pits could have been spaced and dug out without some clever maths and engineering nous being applied. Just 3. The iconic structure has long been a curious indicator of the way life was for the people who lived in the area in the Neolithic period , which in northern Europe came to an end around 1, BCE.

Stonehenge guide

A new study identifies the source of the rest. A test of the metre-long core was matched with a geochemical study of the standing megaliths. The 23ft sarsens each weigh around 20 tonnes. Archaeologists pinpointed the source of the stones to an area 15 miles 25km north of the site near Marlborough.

Archaeological investigation of the site dates back to the s, when it was first Recently a radical new theory has emerged—that Stonehenge served as a.

Archaeologists surveying an area near England’s famous Stonehenge have found what could be one of the largest prehistoric sites known to exist in the country. The discovery consists of 20 underground pits built in a 1. Each is a deep, wide shaft measuring up to 15 feet down and 30 feet across. The series of pits form a ring around Durrington Walls, the site of a large Neolithic settlement that is part of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Researchers at the site first thought they were ponds or natural sinkholes, but thermal imaging was able to reveal more details. They’ve also found carbon-dated artifacts in the pits that date back about 4, years. The findings were recently published in the journal Internet Archaeology. Stonehenge and its stone circles are a World Heritage Site and, along with other adjacent locations, is the most famous prehistoric monument in the world, and widely considered to be the most important.

Like Stonehenge itself, no one knows for sure why the pits were dug or what their significance was. But they do know that Durrington Walls was a settlement for the builders of Stonehenge. Researchers estimate there may have originally been more than 30 pits, and say their size is another example of the complexity of structures within Stonehenge. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


So as far as anyone can tell, the ages of the stone circles and earthworks at Stonehenge are now known though not, sadly, the woodwork. Repeated excavation and re-excavation, coupled with some very good recent archaeology by the Stonehenge Riverside Project, has established a reasonable set of results. These are:. Around or just after BC a circular ditch was dug with most of the spoil placed on a bank inside the ditch.

During this time various cremated people were buried around and in these stone holes.

“With optically stimulated luminescence profiling and dating, we can write wider Stonehenge landscape, and this astonishing discovery offers us new insights.

The druids arrived around 4 p. Under a warm afternoon sun, the group of eight walked slowly to the beat of a single drum, from the visitors entrance toward the looming, majestic stone monument. With the pounding of the drum growing louder, the retinue approached the outer circle of massive stone trilithons—each made up of two huge pillars capped by a stone lintel—and passed through them to the inner circle.

Here they were greeted by Timothy Darvill, now 51, professor of archaeology at Bournemouth University, and Geoffrey Wainwright, now 72, president of the Society of Antiquaries of London. For two weeks, the pair had been leading the first excavation in 44 years of the inner circle of Stonehenge—the best-known and most mysterious megalithic monument in the world. Now it was time to refill the pit they had dug.

Archaeologists Find Massive New Piece of Stonehenge Puzzle

Measuring luminescen The landscape surrounding the Neolithic monument contains many secrets, with features dating back to much earlier times. Having surveyed more than 18 square kilometres in the vicinity, archaeologists continue to make surprising discoveries. The latest, a series of deep pits forming a vast circle more than two kilometres in diameter, shows how technology makes it possible to peer even further back into time. Add to Chrome.

Could the recently revised radiocarbon dating of Stonehenge be giving to see if Stonehenge’s new dates can help solve the dating mystery of.

Vanessa Romo. Thousands of people stand among the ancient stones at Stonehenge in Salisbury, England, at sunrise on the summer solstice. Archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of a ring of shafts about 2 miles away. The latest revelation is the discovery of a ring of at least 20 prehistoric shafts about 2 miles from the famous Neolithic site of immense upright stones, according to an announcement from the University of Bradford. Research on the pits at Durrington was undertaken by a consortium of archaeologists as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

Archaeologists say the “astonishing” shafts in Durrington Walls date back to B. Each one measures up to 10 meters 33 feet in diameter and 5 meters 16 feet deep. The research was conducted by a consortium of archaeologists as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project. When researchers first noted the underground pits, they believed they may have been caused naturally.

Decoding the ancient astronomy of Stonehenge

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