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“New Stonehenge” was made of WOOD: 4,500-year-old timber circle might have commemorated the creation of its famous neighbor

Ian Harvey

It was believed to be a vast prehistoric stone monument that would have dwarfed the mighty Stonehenge. Yet the excavation at a 4,500-year-old superhenge is thought to hold more than 90 more stones hidden underground. There is no sign of any proof of rock monoliths at all.

As an alternative, specialists now believe that the Neolithic monument in Wiltshire was created using huge wooden posts that had been sunk into the ground.

Map showing Woodhenge and Durrington Walls within the Stonehenge section of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Map showing Woodhenge and Durrington Walls within the Stonehenge section of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

The archaeologists have uncovered large pits at the Durrington Walls that look to have held giant posts before they had been removed and filled in with chalk rubble. It appears up to 200 of these posts ringed the large site.

Durrington Walls seen from Woodhenge Photo Credit

Durrington Walls seen from Woodhenge Photo Credit

A new study by archaeologists is proposing the stone circle might have first been used as a cremation cemetery for the deceased. Several charred remnants that were discovered in holes on the site were excavated. These are known as the Aubrey holes; they were discovered to have once held a circle of small standing stones.

New examination of the burned bones has unveiled that they were buried in the holes over a period of 500 years between the years of 3,100 BC and 2,600 BC. Throughout this time the large sarsen trilihons, several of which still stand, were erected.

Yet after 2,500 BC, the people who had used this Stonehenge seem to have stopped cremating and burying human remains in the stone circle. As an alternative, they were burying them in a ditch around the periphery. This shift was a cultural significance of the Stonehenge about this time. It is argued that it later turned into a place to revere the long dead ancestors that were buried on the site.

Woodhenge Photo Credit

Woodhenge Photo Credit

The archaeologists had first had faith that the site was hiding a series of stones that were up to 15 feet long, lying on their sides and becoming buried underneath the large earthworks.

Some ground penetrating radar has unveiled abnormalities that were thought to be stones dotted about the large site. Yet after unearthing two of them, the researchers instead discovered large pits that seem to have at one time contained timber posts. Archaeologists think there may have been as many as 200 or more, as the ground penetrating radar data has detected.

The location of the new Stonehenge, just outside of Durrington, Wiltshire, is thought to have at one time been a huge Neolithic colony to house the creators of the Stonehenge less than two miles away. Previous excavations at the location have unveiled seven houses, and it has been proposed around 4,000 people might have existed inside the village. This place was only used for around 10-12 years. This was after the timbers were set up about the site in a large ring.

They seem to follow a line of what is now a large earthwork know as the Durrington Walls. The site measures under a mile in circumference. The earthworks encircled there are 480 meters (1,575 ft) across.

It is surrounded by a ditch that is up to 17.6 meters (58 ft) wide, and the outer bank is around 40 meters (131 ft) wide. It is raised up to about 3 meters (10 ft) high.

In the previous year, radar scans were done by a team from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Austria, and the Birmingham University. They have unveiled what seems to be around 90 stones which might have originally measured around 4.5 meters (15 ft) tall. They lay on their sides under the large bank of earth.

The new findings suggest that this henge was originally built from wood instead of stone. This new research has been guided by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, the National Trust, and the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

Stonehenge Photo Credit

Stonehenge Photo Credit

This means it might have appeared more like the close Woodhenge, the Neolithic location near Stonehenge that was thought to had been created about 2,300 BC. It seems the earthworks were created on top of the pits where the posts once sat.

The Durrington Walls were just over a mile from Stonehenge close to another ancient monument known as the Woodhenge. Digging at the Durrington Walls has failed to discover any stones monoliths buried underneath the earthworks. Instead, they discovered huge pits that once held up 200 large timber posts arranged in a circle. Archaeologists have thought that the site might have been entirely ringed with posts.

No one is exactly sure why, or how, Stonehenge was created. Specialists have proposed it was either a graveyard, parliament, or a temple. Some people have thought the stone had healing powers, while some others think they had musical properties when struck with a stone. They might have acted as a large musical instrument to call ancient people to the monument.

There is proof the stones were aligned with the phases of the sun. Some have suggested it was used as a giant observatory to monitor the stars, Main Online reported.

Religion and rituals were a significant part of daily life, so this newly discovered henge may have been a way of commemorating a place related to the Stonehenge. It is unclear to archaeologists why the timbers at Durrington were removed, and the large bank and ditch put in their place.