#1
A new discovery could help shed light on why the mysterious Stonehenge was built.

The large complex, found in a village around 1.5 miles from the famous stone circle, is thought to date back more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge.

The researchers say the complex was a sacred place where Neolithic people performed ceremonies, including feasting and the deliberate smashing of ceramic bowls.

The new discovery shows the entire area around Stonehenge was even more sacred and ritually active than archaeologists had thought, hundreds of years before Stonehenge appeared...

Why was Stonehenge built? Newly-discovered Neolithic complex close to the stone circle could hold the answer


The large complex was found in a village around 1.5 miles from Stonehenge

The 656 foot diameter complex consists of around 3,000 feet of ditches

Around 300 feet of the ditches have been excavated so far

Evidence of cattle bones, ceramic dishes and human remains were found


By Abigail Beall For Mailonline
21 November 2016

A new discovery could help shed light on why the mysterious Stonehenge was built.

The large complex, found in a village around 1.5 miles from the famous stone circle, is thought to date back more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge.

The researchers say the complex was a sacred place where Neolithic people performed ceremonies, including feasting and the deliberate smashing of ceramic bowls.


A new discovery could help shed light on why the mysterious Stonehenge was built. The large complex, found in a city around 1.5 miles from the famous stone circle, is thought to date back more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge (pictured)

The new discovery shows the entire area around Stonehenge was even more sacred and ritually active than archaeologists had thought, hundreds of years before Stonehenge appeared.

The complex was built about 5,650 years ago, around 3650 BC, more than 1,000 years before the stones of Stonehenge were erected.

The 656 feet diameter complex consists of around 3,000 feet of ditches and is the first major early Neolithic monument discovered in the Stonehenge area for more than a century.

It was discovered in a village called Larkhill in Wiltshire, just 1.5 miles north east of the famous site.

A group of archaeologists found the site after the UK Ministry of Defence was preparing to build British Army houses on the land.

The researchers, led by Wessex Archaeology, found evidence of cattle bones, ceramic dishes and human remains.

Freshly broken pottery, dumps of worked flint and even a large stone saddle quern used to turn grain into flour were also found.

The researchers will now test the remains of the the findings, including the ceramic bowls, to try to determine what they were used for.

Each bowl could have held up to 10.5 pints of beverage or partially liquid food, potentially a broth.

'The newly found site is one of the most exciting discoveries in the Stonehenge landscape that archaeologists have ever made,' a prehistorian from Wessex Archaeology said.

'These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular,' said Martin Brown, Principal Archaeologist for WYG, consultancy company WYG, which is leading the Larkhill housing development.

'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.'

Around 300 feet of the ditches have been excavated so far.


The researchers, led by Wessex Archaeology, found evidence of ceramic vessels (left) and arrowheads (right)


The Larkhill enclosure has produced freshly broken pottery, dumps of worked flint and even a large stone saddle quern (shown right) used to turn grain into flour. Antlers are shown left


The Trundle near Chichester, West Sussex, is an Iron Age hill fort built around a Neolithic causewayed enclosure - pictured. Researchers believe that causewayed enclosures were rapidly erected all over southern England in just 75 years

The findings indicate the people used the sacred area for rituals, including feasting on cattle and smashing plates, as well as a burial ground.

Human skull fragments were also found in the ditch, probably reflecting ceremonial practices and religious belief.

No one is exactly sure why, or even how, Stonehenge was built, but the new findings could provide some fresh clues.

About 70 enclosures of this type are known across England, although this is only the second discovery in the Stonehenge landscape, with the other further to the north at Robin Hood’s Ball on Salisbury Plain.

Researchers believe that enclosures were rapidly erected all over southern England in just 75 years.


Robin Hood's Ball is a Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire



Around 300 feet of the ditches have been excavated so far. The researchers found evidence of cattle bones, ceramic dishes and human remains


The site was discovered in a village called Larkhill in Wiltshire, just 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north east of Stonehenge (both shown on a map)


An artist's impression of the Whitehawk causewayed enclosure near Brighton and Hove in East Sussex that was built in 3650BC. It was only used for 200 years. About 70 enclosures of this type are known across England


Researchers have suggested it was a temple, parliament and a graveyard.

Some people think the stones have healing powers, while others think they have musical properties when struck with a stone.

They could have acted as a giant musical instrument to call ancient people to the monument.

There is evidence the stones were aligned with phases of the sun and some have proposed it was used as a giant observatory to monitor the stars.

People were buried there and skeletal evidence shows that people travelled hundreds of miles to visit Stonehenge - for whatever reason.

Recently, experts said the route was a busy one and that Stonehenge could be viewed differently from different positions.

It seems that instead of being a complete barrier, the Neolithic structure acted as a gateway to guide visitors to the stone circle.

WE STILL DON'T KNOW WHY STONEHENGE WAS BUILT

No one is exactly sure why, or even how, Stonehenge was built.

Experts have suggested it was a temple, parliament and even a graveyard.

Some people think the stones have healing powers, while others think they have musical properties when struck with a stone.

They could have acted as a giant musical instrument to call ancient people to the monument.

There is evidence the stones were aligned with phases of the sun and some have proposed it was used as a giant observatory to monitor the stars.

People were buried there and skeletal evidence shows that people travelled hundreds of miles to visit Stonehenge - for unknown reasons.

Recently, experts said the route was a busy one and that Stonehenge could be viewed differently from different positions.

It seems that instead of being a complete barrier, the Neolithic structure acted as a gateway to guide visitors to the stone circle.

DID STONEHENGE START LIFE AS A CEMETERY?

A recent study by archaeologists has suggested the imposing stone circle may have initially been used as a cremation cemetery for the dead.

Charred remains discovered on the site were unearthed in holes - known as the Aubrey Holes - that have been found to have once held a circle of small standing stones.

Fresh analysis of the burned bones has revealed they were buried in the holes over a period of 500 years between 3100BC and 2600BC.

During this time the enormous sarsen trilithons, many of which still stand today, were erected.

But after 2,500BC, the people who used Stonehenge appear to have stopped cremating and burying human remains in the stone circle itself, instead burying them in a ditch around the periphery.

This, according to Professor Mike Parker-Pearson, an archaeologist at University College London, and his colleagues, suggests there was a shift in the cultural significance of Stonehenge around this time.

They argue that it later became a place to revere long-dead ancestors who had been buried on the site.


BRITAIN'S ANCIENT STONE CIRCLES

The UK has its fair share of ancient stone formations. some of the oldest include:



Stonehenge - Wiltshire, 2400 BC (stones), 3100 BC (bank and ditch)



Stenness - Orkney, 3100 BC




Ring of Brodgar - Orkney, 2500 BC



Callanish - Isle of Lewis, c.2900 BC



Avebury - Wiltshire, c.3000 BC



Read more: Reason behind Stonehenge may be revealed thanks to Neolithic complex | Daily Mail Online

Last edited by Blackleaf; Nov 22nd, 2016 at 07:59 AM..