England’s legendary prehistoric monument – Stonehenge – has always been surrounded by many mysteries and various questions, however, researchers from the University of Buckingham in England now say they have solved one of them.
A landmark discovery has shed new light on the origins of life in Britain – with archaeologists confident they finally know the identity of the country’s oldest town. It had long been thought Thatcham in Buckinghamshire was the oldest continuous settlement in the UK, but researchers have now bestowed the title on Amesbury in Wiltshire.
A site near Stonehenge has revealed archaeological evidence that hunters lived just a mile from Stonehenge roughly 5,000 years prior to the construction of the first stones, new research suggests.
The find was based on a report by fossil mammal specialist Simon Parfitt, of the Natural History Museum. The site, which was occupied continuously for 3,000 years, had evidence of burning, thousands bones of several large animals like aurochs, wild boar and red deer; smaller animal bones and numerous burnt flints.
That suggests the area near Stonehenge may have been a main migration route, as the remnants, dating back to some 10,000 years ago (around 8820 B.C.) are believed to have been the leftovers of a large feasts at the site.
The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.
The researchers said the discovery helps to explain for the first time why Stonehenge was built where it was – around two miles from the modern day town.
David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, said: “The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways. It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments.”
“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself. The first monuments at Stonehenge were built by these people. For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers.”
The large megaliths, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet tall and weigh up to 25 tons, while the smaller bluestones weigh up to 4 tons. Researchers think the giant boulders came from a quarry near Marlborough Downs, just 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the iconic site, while the bluestones likely came from Preseli Hills in Wales, nearly 156 miles (250 km) away from Stonehenge, says LiveScience.
Archaeologists said the results provide the missing link between the erection of the posts at around 8,820BC and 6,590BC, and of Stonehenge in 3,000BC.
The findings provide evidence that suggests Stonehenge should be viewed as a response to long-term use of the area by indigenous hunters and home-makers – rather than being seen as a neolithic new build in an empty landscape.
Andy Rhind-Tutt, the founder of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, said there was “something unique and rather special about the area” to keep people there from the end of the Ice Age, to when Stonehenge was created and until today.