Sister monument to Stonehenge may have been found

2010-07-23 08:52

Scientists scouring the area around Stonehenge say they have

uncovered a circular structure only a few hundred metres from the world famous


There’s some debate about what exactly has been found.

The survey

team which uncovered the structure said it could be the foundation for a circle

of freestanding pieces of timber, a wooden version of Stonehenge.

But Tim Darvill, a professor of archaeology at Bournemouth

University in southern England, expressed scepticism yesterday, saying he

believed it was more likely a barrow, or prehistoric tomb.

Darvill said the discovery “really shows how much there is still to

learn and how extensive the site really was.”

He said: “In its day Stonehenge was one of the largest ceremonial

centres in Europe.”

The Stonehenge that is visible today is thought to have been

completed about 3 500 years ago, although the first earthwork henge on the site

was probably built more than 5?000 years ago.

A stone’s throw from the newly found henge is a formation known as

the Cursus, a 3km long earthwork whose purpose remains unknown.

Also nearby is a puzzling chunk of land known as the Northern Kite

Enclosure; Bronze Age farmers seem to have avoided cultivating crops there,

although no one is quite sure why.

The whole area around Stonehenge is dotted with prehistoric

cemeteries – some of which predate the monument itself – and new discoveries are

made occasionally.

Last year, researchers said they had found a small circle of stones

on the banks of the nearby River Avon.

Experts speculated the stone circle –

dubbed Bluehenge because it was built with bluestones – may have served as the

starting point of a processional walk that began at the river and ended at


Chapman’s team is still in the early stages of its work, having

surveyed only about 4km² of the 16km² it eventually plans to map.

The survey is being led by the University of Birmingham and the

Austria-based Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and

Virtual Archaeology, with support from other institutions and researchers from

Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Henges of various descriptions exist throughout Britain – from the

Standing Stones o’ Stenness on the northern island of Orkney to the Maumbury

Rings in southern England county of Dorset.

Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site, remains the best-known.

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