Paul Garwood, an archaeologist and lead historian on the project at the University of Birmingham, said the the new discoveries at Durrington Walls changed fundamentally how researchers understood Stonehenge and the world around it. “Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be rewritten,” he said.
Nick Snashall, a National Trust archaeologist for the Avebury and Stonehenge world heritage site, said: “These latest results have produced tantalising evidence of what lies beneath the ancient earthworks at Durrington Walls. The presence of what appear to be stones, surrounding the site of one of the largest Neolithic settlements in Europe, adds a whole new chapter to the Stonehenge story.”
Anyway, it now appears that it was all a load of nonsense, and that there weren't any wonderful rows of monoliths (either bluestones or sarsens) after all. This is the report from the BBC, tucked away on the Wiltshire pages of the web site:
'New Stonehenge' at Durrington Walls 'had no standing stones'http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-37047010
12 August 2016
A 4,500-year-old monument experts thought was "another Stonehenge" is now understood to have not contained any standing stones at all.
Archaeologists digging at Durrington Walls - about two miles from Stonehenge - said they now believed the Neolithic site was surrounded by timber posts.
Last year they said a survey showed evidence of "a Superhenge" of more than 100 buried stones at the site.
But no evidence of stones was found during an excavation.
Pits that contained wooden posts have been found.
The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has been surveying an area covering 16 sq km near Stonehenge for the past six years using geophysical survey techniques.
National Trust archaeologist Dr Nicola Snashall said ground penetrating radar had revealed "anomalies" that were originally believed to be buried stones.
"The response from the radar was so good that the team thought they were dealing with a whole series of stones lying on their side, buried beneath the bank of this ancient earthwork."
Two of the features have now been excavated, and the stones theory has been disproved.
"What we've discovered are that there are two enormous pits for timber posts. They have got ramps at the sides to lower posts into.
"They did contain timbers which have been vertically lifted out and removed at some stage.
"The top was then filled in with chalk rubble and then the giant henge bank was raised over the top."
Dr Snashall said it was thought the giant timber monument was was put up immediately after a settlement on the site, that belonged to the builders of Stonehenge, went out of use.
"For some strange reason they took the timbers out and put up the enormous bank and ditch that we see today."
The Durrington Walls monument, which is about 480m (1,500 ft) across, is just under two miles (3km) from the famous Stonehenge site in Wiltshire.
The archaeologists involved in the new dig are of course flagging the whole thing up as a wonderful and "incredibly exciting" new piece of work involving a group of diverse specialists and enabling members of the public to visit a real dig and watch and talk to real "experts". See Dr Nick Snashall's reports here:
It is intriguing to see that over the course of the dig, a wondrous row of a hundred recumbent monoliths that were once upright has been transformed first into an "arc of large solid anomalies, some over two metres long" and finally into a set of postholes.............. with not a sarsen or bluestone monolith in sight.
No doubt some very interesting things will come out of this two-week dig, but there is obvious that the dig itself was a red herring and that there are currently some very red faces around, especially in the Gaffney team.
So what does this tell us about the state of British archaeology? Well, it confirms that there is a world of difference between technology and science -- the original Gaffney team's PR, about a year ago, flagged up how the great discoveries at Durrington had been achieved through the use of high-tech gadgetry. Hmmm-- the use of wonderful toys does not, sadly, mean that your results are scientifically reliable.
More to the point, this is yet another illustration of the archaeological obsession with "impact" -- with workers who should know better rushing out wildly premature press releases on the basis of half-baked research, just in order to obtain a few days of global coverage in the gullible media.
Here is the original Ludwig Boltzmann Institute press release:
and the video: