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Welsh quarries ransacked by ancient Britons while building Stonehenge 5,000 years ago have been identified by archaeologists.

At least two spots in west Wales were mined for enormous stones that still form part of the iconic monument today.

Neolithic humans dragged the monoliths more than 180 miles back to the mysterious site's location in Wiltshire.


ROCK AND A HARD PLACE Source of Stonehenge’s ancient megaliths finally revealed as experts find EXACT quarry where they were unearthed 5,000 years ago

The monument's enormous stones weigh up to 30 tons each

By Harry Pettit, Senior Digital Technology and Science Reporter
19th February 2019
The Sun

WELSH quarries ransacked by ancient Britons while building Stonehenge 5,000 years ago have been identified by archaeologists.

At least two spots in west Wales were mined for enormous stones that still form part of the iconic monument today.

Prehistoric Bristons used two quarries in Pembrokeshire to collect Stonehenge's "bluestones"

Neolithic humans dragged the monoliths more than 180 miles back to the mysterious site's location in Wiltshire.

Experts think they used a rudimentary pulley system of logs and ropes to transport the stones, which weigh up to 30 tons each, though they can't know for sure.

Archaeologists have long puzzled over Stonehenge's "Bluestones" – monoliths with a chemical makeup that does not fit the profile of any local stone.

They think the monument had around 80 originally, but only 43 remain.

Stonehenge is about 5,000 years old

The Stonehenge quarry in west Wales

In 2015, boffins discovered that 42 of the remaining bluestones come from Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, west Wales.

And in a new study, a team of British scientists tracked down the exact quarries used by Stonehenge's constructors.

Team leader Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of University College London, said: "What's really exciting about these discoveries is that they take us a step closer to unlocking Stonehenge's greatest mystery – why its stones came from so far away.

"Every other Neolithic monument in Europe was built of megaliths brought from no more than 10 miles away.

Stonehenge has been used for various religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Pictured is an artist's impression of a Neolithic ceremony at the site, before its stones were erected

"We're now looking to find out just what was so special about the Preseli hills 5,000 years ago, and whether there were any important stone circles here, built before the bluestones were moved to Stonehenge."

The team matched the chemical makeup of Stonehenge's bluestones with that of rocks found at two quarries across the Preseli Hills.

The largest quarry was almost 180 miles away from Stonehenge on the outcrop of Carn Goedog, on the north slope of the Preseli Hills.

"At least five of Stonehenge's bluestones, and probably more, came from Carn Goedog," said Dr Richard Bevins, an expert at the National Museum of Wales.

Rhyolite - another type of igneous rock - found at Stonehenge came from a spot in the valley below Carn Goedog, researchers found.

As part of their study, the team also examined how prehistoric builders may have gathered and transported the bluestones.

The outcrops they found are formed of natural, vertical pillars that could have been eased off the rock face using wedges.

Ancient Britons would have inserted the wedges between rock pillars and then lowered them onto platforms at the foot of the outcrop.

Excavations confirmed this after boffins uncovered the remains of man-made stone and earth platforms at each location.

Research suggests the stones were mined 5,000 years ago

"Bluestone pillars could be eased down onto this platform, which acted as a loading bay for lowering them onto wooden sledges before dragging them away," said team member Professor Colin Richards, from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Finally, the researchers dated pieces of charcoal found at the quarrying sites to around 3,000 BC.

The team now thinks that Stonehenge was initially a circle of rough, unworked bluestone pillars set in pits known as the Aubrey Holes, near Stonehenge.

Sarsens, sandstone blocks quarried near the Wiltshire site, were added some 500 years later.

The new discoveries also cast doubt on a popular theory that the bluestones were transported by sea to Stonehenge.

"Some people think that the bluestones were taken southwards to Milford Haven and placed on rafts or slung between boats and then paddled up the Bristol Channel and along the Bristol Avon towards Salisbury Plain," said Professor Kate Welham, of Bournemouth University.

"But these quarries are on the north side of the Preseli Hills so the megaliths could have simply gone overland all the way to Salisbury Plain."

The research was published in the journal Antiquity.

What is Stonehenge?



What you need to know about Britain's most mysterious monument

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire
It's a ring of standing stones that measure around 13 feet high and seven feet wide
Each stone weighs roughly 25 tons
Experts say that the monument was constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC
In 1882, it was legally protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument
And in 1986, the site and surroundings became a UNESCO World Heritage SiteStonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage
But the land around Stonehenge is owned by the National Trust
Part of what makes Stonehenge so mysterious is that it was produced by a culture with no written records
Scientists regularly debate over how and why Stonehenge was built, and what it was used for
One theory suggests Stonehenge was a sacred burial site
Another proposes that it was used for celestial and astronomical alignments
And some think it was an ancient place of healing
It used to be believed that it was created as a Druid temple
But we now know that Stonehenge predated the Druids by around 2000 years

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/845901...urce-revealed/