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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Understanding of Stonehenge transformed for the first time this week



Oh dear-- yet another transformation in our understanding of Stonehenge. I wish these people would back off on the purple prose -- but I suppose it is in the DNA of all archaeologists........  But this does look quite interesting.  It will be intriguing to see what emerges about this early episode, which seems to pre-date the "stone using phase" by a few centuries..........

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New discoveries rewrite Stonehenge landscape

28th November 2016

http://www.spirefm.co.uk/news/local-news/2160469/new-discoveries-rewrite-stonehenge-landscape/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/stonehenge-prehistoric-religious-ceremonial-centre-discovered-archaeologists-a7425346.html

Archaeologists have found new evidence that rewrites the history of the Stonehenge landscape.  One of the newly-discovered sites even predates the construction of the world famous monument itself.

At Larkhill, the discovery of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure - a major ceremonial gathering place some 200 meters in diameter - dating from around 3650 BC radically changes our view of the Stonehenge landscape. About 70 enclosures of this type are known across the UK, although this is only the second discovery in the Stonehenge landscape, with the other further to the northwest at Robin Hood's Ball on the Salisbury Plain Training Area. In the Wessex region they occur on hilltops and, along with long barrows, are some of the earliest built structures in the British landscape.

FASCINATING FINDS - 700 yrs older than Stonehenge:

The Larkhill enclosure has produced pottery, worked flint, a saddle quern, animal bone and human skull fragments, all placed in the ditches which define the enclosure. Sites of this type were used for temporary settlement, to exchange animals and other goods, for feasting and other ritual activity, including the disposal of the dead. The objects found in the ditches reflect these ceremonial practices. The Larkhill causewayed enclosure is around 700 years older than Stonehenge and is part of a landscape that included other large earth and timber structures such as long barrows and cursus monuments. Its builders shaped the landscape into which the stone circle at Stonehenge was placed, which was already special long before Stonehenge was constructed. The causewayed enclosure at Larkhill shows that they had the social organisation necessary to come together to create significant earthworks, and the resources to support the work, as well as the people to carry it out.

Dr Matt Leivers of Wessex Archaeology told Spire FM:  "This is an exciting new find and one that transforms our understanding of this important monumental landscape."

While part of the site has been investigated, the majority of it lies within the Larkhill Garrison, where it remains unaffected by the current works.

UNIQUE DOUBLE HENGE:

At nearby Bulford, archaeologists have found a unique double henge, the only example known in Britain. The earliest phases were created around 2900 BC with circular enclosures formed by ditches dug in segments with openings to the north. In the Early Bronze Age (around 2000 BC) both henges were enclosed within continuous ditches, and perhaps buried beneath barrow mounds. From one of the Bulford henges a skull from a large dog or wolf, perhaps a working companion, a trophy from the hunt, or even a totemic symbol, was recovered.

Martin Brown, Principal Archaeologist for WYG told Spire FM:  "These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular. The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit: They were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world. It is an enormous privilege to hold their tools and investigate their lives."

ARMY HOUSING WORKS CONTINUE:

Archaeological work on both sites is being managed and directed by WYG on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), with fieldwork undertaken by Wessex Archaeology.

The sites' development is part of wider plans to accommodate the 4000 additional Service personnel plus their families who will be based on and around Salisbury Plain by 2019 under the Army Basing Programme. In total, the MOD is planning to invest more than £1 billion in the area which will provide more than 900 new homes  for Service families, over 2,600 new bed spaces for single soldiers and the construction, conversion or refurbishment of 250 other buildings within bases, such as offices, garages, workshops and Mess facilities.

2 comments:

TonyH said...

This forms part of BBC4's "Digging For Britain" New Series, Part 1 of 3. To be first screened Tuesday 06/12/16.Looks as if MPP may pop up on this.

Those in Pembrokeshire may also wish to see the piece about a Dark Ages cemetery uncovered by storms across on the mainland from Ramsay Island. I think this is a Dyfed Archaeological Trust dig.

TonyH said...

The Independent article Brian highlights and provides the web link to is well worth a read. It goes into an unusual amount of archaeological detail on the Larkhill causewayed enclosure, which was more recently discovered than the Bulford henges.

There is also, embedded within it, a link to an Independent article about Brian and Colleagues' findings which dismiss the notion of a Rhosyfelin quarry.