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Stonehenge Researchers Discover Site Is Much Larger Than Previously Thought

Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Archaeology, Sci-Tech with 0 Comments

Ian Sample | The Guardian

stonehengeStonehenge stood at the heart of a sprawling landscape of chapels, burial mounds, massive pits and ritual shrines, according to an unprecedented survey of the ancient grounds.

Researchers uncovered 17 new chapels and hundreds of archaeological features around the neolithic standing stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, including forms of monuments that have never been seen before.

Brought together for the first time in a digital map of the historic site, the discoveries transform how archaeologists view a landscape that was reshaped by generations for hundreds of years after the first stones were erected around 3100BC.

“This radically changes our view of Stonehenge,” said Vince Gaffney, head of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project at Birmingham University. “In the past we had this idea that Stonehenge was standing in splendid isolation, but it wasn't … it's absolutely huge.”

He added that around Stonehenge people created “their own shrines and temples. We can see the whole landscape is being used in very complex ways”.

The finds follow the discovery, made public early this month, that the monument was originally circular. Researchers said that an insufficiently long hosepipe might have helped them solve one of the enduring mysteries of Stonehenge: whether the monument was originally built as a full circle or a C-shape.


A man driving a vehicle with surveying instruments near Stonehenge, where a hidden complex of archaeological monuments was discovered. Photograph: Geert Verhoeven/University of Bi/PA

The hosepipe was used to water grass around the stones, but when it failed to reach parts of the monument patches of brown began to appear. Tim Daw, who helps to maintain the site, noticed that the patches matched spots where missing stones may have stood, making Stonehenge a full circle. The discovery has prompted a fresh mystery around what happened to the missing stones.

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