More startling Neolithic discoveries!

As if this summer hadn’t given us enough to think about with the excavations we reported on at Marden, Avebury and Dorstone Hill in our Summer of action posts, news reaches us of the remarkable discoveries made by Prof. Vince Gaffney of the University of Bradford and his team.

As part of the on-going Stonehenge Hidden Landscape project, Prof. Gaffney and his team had surveyed a large area around Britain’s most famous monument. They have been using a number of methods to gather data that has enabled them to create a picture of what remains in the ground, hidden from view from all but the most determined archaeologists armed with the most sophisticated technology. These have included Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and laser scanning.

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The southern bank of Durrington Walls. Woodhenge is in the upper right side of the picture.

The newly-discovered monument lies under the southern bank of the henge known as Durrington Walls, some 3 miles to the northwest of Stonehenge. Durrington Walls itself is a very impressive monument – it is some 500m in diameter for a start! Now it seems that this monument is pre-dated by this earlier construction which has at least 90 standing stones in it. It is said to be c-shaped or a crescent shaped bank facing the River Avon, which is also closely linked with Durrington Walls.

Although no scientific dating has yet been carried out, the latest find has to be older than Durrington Walls as it it buried by it. Known as the Law of Superposition, in any archaeological excavation or analysis, any context or layer which is under another, is older. With Durrington Walls thought to have been constructed in the middle of the 3rd millennium bc (around 2,500 bc) this makes the new site at least 4,500 years old.

Of course, this is early days in the story of the area and this intriguing development is sure to add more to the story of both Durrington Walls and the Neolithic. We will certainly be keeping an eye on this!

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