Hidden Monuments Under Stonehenge Revealed by High-Tech Mapping

Sep 15, 2014

By Roff Smith

 

An astonishing complex of ancient monuments, buildings, and barrows has lain hidden and unsuspected beneath the Stonehenge area for thousands of years. Scientists discovered the site using sophisticated techniques to see underground, announcing the finds this week.

Among the discoveries announced Wednesday are 17 ritual monuments, including the remains of a massive “house of the dead,” hundreds of burial mounds, and evidence of a possible processional route around Stonehenge itself.

There’s also evidence of a nearby mile-long “superhenge” at Durrington Walls that was once flanked by as many as 60 gigantic stone or timber columns, some of which may still lie under the soil.

The discoveries result from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project, a four-year effort to create a high-resolution, 3-D underground map of the landscape surrounding Stonehenge.

16 comments on “Hidden Monuments Under Stonehenge Revealed by High-Tech Mapping

  • The ground penetrating geophysics is revealing all sorts of archaeological features on sites all over the world.

    The next important step is to protect sites from the raiding treasure hunters who have damaged so many sites in remote areas – particularly in third-world countries.



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  • . form a sort of Neolithic analogue to the Via Dolorosa, held to be the path Jesus walked to crucifixion, Gaffney suggests.
    Alan

    What did you make of this comment? I thought it an unusual comparison.



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  • Nitya Sep 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    form a sort of Neolithic analogue to the Via Dolorosa, held to be the path Jesus walked to crucifixion, Gaffney suggests.

    What did you make of this comment? I thought it an unusual comparison.

    I’m not sure where this quote came from, but someone seems to be a bit carried away with Jesus mythology.

    The new geophysics has certainly shown extensive walkways and evidence of long lost wooden structures, indicating that the site was much more extensive and joined up than previously thought.

    I think there was also some earlier work, which indicated that the river had changed its course since those times.



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  • I was fortunate enough to visit Stonehenge in the summer of 1975. Let’s see it was the summer so I was going into 6th grade, therefore I was 10 years old. Anyway, at time the public was still permitted to walk among the great monuments. I remember thinking that it was so weird that these giant pillars were just standing here with nothing else around them. Something wasn’t right. Something was missing. Well, something had been missing, it appears. Very cool story.



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  • visit Stonehenge

    As Napoleon Dynamite would say, “luck-y!”.

    public was still permitted to walk…

    Do equinox / solstice revelers need a permit – or, they also have to stay behind a perimeter of sorts.



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  • BBC2 has just shown a programme covering this through the centuries of use.

    The geophysics has shown an extensive palisade fence dividing the site and numerous wooden buildings and burial mounds which which were added over the centuries.
    There were artefacts in the burials indicating fine metal work in copper, bronze and gold, along with evidence of trade with continental Europe.

    There are of course numerous smaller stone circles spread around the UK.



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  • Olgun Sep 19, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Are there any other explanations for Stonehenge that do not involve religion? Some practical use?

    As well as a centre for ceremonial gatherings and perhaps trade, it would appear to be an astronomical calendar – invaluable for people deciding when to sow crops.

    http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/gem-projects/hm/0102-1-stonehenge/sun.htm

    The fact that the blue stones and some wooden structures were moved, altered or extended over the centuries of use suggests adjustments were being made.



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  • I seem to recall similar structures found in other parts of Europe as well, though maybe I’m mistaken. Belgium?? Also found on islands off the coast?
    We were there in 1976 and we permitted to walk around the stones and run our hands over the surfaces like bjgherc. Not surprised that they’ve been closed to public access; I could imagine them covered in graffiti and etchings saying things like ‘by was here’.



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  • I saw the second of the program’s on BBC2 last night and still have trouble with the ceremonial side although I can imagine it became so later on in its life. I also wondered, if you saw the program, why those two scientist were wasting their time measuring out the spacing of the stones and not simply; draw the circle using a stake in the middle and a rope and then use the shadows cast by the sun and the stake??? It also annoyed me, maybe wrongly, that a body found with unusual wounds was instantly given over to human sacrifice and not to an execution of a thief maybe?

    On another link, Wiki I think, I read about bones being found in burial mounds with signs of trauma and these too were attributed to ceremonial rituals and wondered if they might be people who died just defending the area? There was also reference to mass slaughter of livestock and again was described as ceremonial as a great feast. Could it have been for preserving/ salting of meat for winter months or for sale as you said, as a trade centre? Many artefacts from all Spain and other countries were also found around the newly found settlement so maybe it was the worlds first shopping mall???



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  • Olgun Sep 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Many artefacts from all Spain and other countries were also found around the newly found settlement so maybe it was the worlds first shopping mall???

    They did seem to suggest elite trade goods from geographically diverse areas.



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  • I see the practical uses as a massive sundial, by the way, and the sheer size might make it easier to defend from animals and attacks? Just can’t get my head around ceremonies being more important then practical survival for the times. Could the main stones have been for livestock and the blue stones for crops and were moved as their technology progressed in farming?



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  • Olgun Sep 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Just can’t get my head around ceremonies being more important then practical survival for the times. Could the main stones have been for livestock and the blue stones for crops and were moved as their technology progressed in farming?

    This was clearly a centre for large gatherings of people coming from some distance. I think any livestock would have been brought in as food for feasting.
    They would have needed large numbers of people to manage transporting stones for the initial building and for operations on that sort of scale.
    The place was used for centuries with very substantial tombs for elite chiefs nearby.



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  • I would like to find out more about the parallel lines found that suggested the route taken for the stones to be transported. How deep they went and was it possible to flood them and make it easier to transport the stones? Just a lot of pieces that don’t quite fit for me but then that is what makes it interesting.



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