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Earth Science

Miniature Stonehenge Discovered In Wiltshire, UK 152

Posted by kdawson
from the druids-at-work-and-play dept.
CmdrGravy weighs in with exciting archaeological news, "one of the most important prehistoric finds in decades" according to the article: a miniature Stonehenge a mile from the famous site. "Bluehenge," as the find is being called because of the assumed color of its (now-missing) stones, is believed to have been put up around the time of Stonehenge, 5,000 years ago. "All that remains of the 60-ft.-wide Bluehenge are the holes of 27 giant stones set on a ramped mount. Chips of blue stone found in the holes appear to be identical to the blue stones used in Stonehenge. The four-ton monsters, made of Preseli Spotted Dolerite — a chemically altered igneous rock harder than granite — were mined in the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire and then rolled, dragged, and floated the 200 miles to the site on the banks of the Avon in Wiltshire."
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Miniature Stonehenge Discovered In Wiltshire, UK

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  • by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @12:32AM (#29632813)
    I live 50miles from Stonehenge but pass it regularly on my way to customers.

    Over the past two years ther have been a huge amount of archaeology excavation work in the Stonehenge area. Last year it was mostly close to the henge itself.

    This year the excavations have been off to the North West up the A344 closer to Airmans Corner

    http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=412500&Y=142500&A=Y&Z=120 [streetmap.co.uk]

    Even this article is published in the "Daily Wail" I suspect there is a lot more details to emerge over the coming months.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:00AM (#29633173) Homepage Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe [wikipedia.org]

    Its lowest layer is dated 9130-8800 BC. That's fucking 11,130 years ago. its the oldest place of worship. Also :

     

    Göbekli Tepe is the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered.[2] Until excavations began, a complex on this scale was not thought possible for a community so ancient. The massive sequence of stratification layers suggests several millennia of activity, perhaps reaching back to the Mesolithic. The oldest occupation layer (stratum III) contains monolithic pillars linked by coarsely built walls to form circular or oval structures. So far, four such buildings, with diameters between 10 and 30m have been uncovered. Geophysical surveys indicate the existence of 16 additional structures.
     
    Stratum II, dated to Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) (7500 - 6000 BC), has revealed several adjacent rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime, reminiscent of Roman terrazzo floors. The most recent layer consists of sediment deposited as the result of agricultural activity.

    Moreover, this is more important - it seems to be the place where mankind first domesticated wheat :

    While the site formally belongs to the earliest Neolithic (PPN A), up to now no traces of domesticated plants or animals have been found. The inhabitants were hunters and gatherers who nevertheless lived in villages for at least part of the year.[7] Schmidt speculates that the site played a key function in the transition to agriculture; he assumes that the necessary social organization needed for the creation of these structures went hand-in-hand with the organized exploitation of wild crops. For sustenance, wild cereals may have been used more intensively than before; perhaps they were even deliberately cultivated. Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in structure to wild wheat found on Mount Karaca Da 20 miles away from the site, leading one to believe that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.[8]

    enjoy.

  • by Don_dumb (927108) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:02AM (#29633393)
    Of course the other local secret we don't tell people is that Stonehenge isn't half as good as Avebury, about 30 miles North of Stonehenge. If anyone is going to have a look at stone circles and old mysterious things. I would say that the better place is the one with the pub in the middle - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avebury [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by Vulch (221502) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @06:53AM (#29633967)

    Unfortunately for your ice sheet theory, the large bluestones are all there is in the area. Glaciation would also have brought huge quantities of identifiable smaller bits right down to gravel size.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @08:18AM (#29634303)

    There's no reason to suggest they were dragged, mostly they were floated down over the Bristol channel and then probably across the flooded plains of Somerset. Wiltshire's only a short drag from there.

  • by Frogg (27033) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @08:40AM (#29634421)

    here in the UK Channel 4's "Time Team" covered some of the recent excavations in the Stonehenge area in a couple of episodes earlier this year - this includes the initial discovery of this 'Bluehenge' site, although when the programmes were made they had not got as far as finding the evidence for a complete henge at this site.

    check out the two 'specials' here [channel4.com] and here [channel4.com]. fwiw, the second programme is the more detailed of the two and covers more of the later discoveries.

    these recent digs are particularly interesting because they're the most up-to-date excavations to have taken place in the Stonehenge area so far, and they also include the re-excavations of older digs which took place before we had some of our modern techniques, technologies and understanding.

    truly fascinating stuff! :)

  • Re:Henges? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frogg (27033) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:04AM (#29634555)

    How many more henges are we going to find?

    evidence exists for literally hundreds and hundreds of henges across the UK - a lot of them don't have any stones (not because they've been removed, a lot of them just never had them) - the term 'henge' is generally taken to be a circular/oval bank and ditch earthwork.

    Why isn't the word henge used more in day-to-day conversation?

    ...uhm, maybe it's because in day-to-day conversation people don't generally talk about pre-historic / neolithic sites very much? (sorry, couldn't resist pointing out the obvious there! ;)

    people familiar with ancient / pre-historic sites do often use the term henge when talking about this kind of thing - i guess it depends on where you live, and who you speak with? -- i'm kinda assuming from your question that you likely aren't living in the UK (or France) where there are a lot of henges (and barrows and standing stones / stone arrangements) scattered all over the countryside - some are big and impressive, like Stonehenge [wikipedia.org] (obviously), Avebury [wikipedia.org] and Thornborough [wikipedia.org], all of which are in the UK, and Carnac [wikipedia.org] in France -- whereas others are only known about because of circular markings left in farmers fields (often only visible from the air nowadays), eg. Bow Henge [megalithic.co.uk].

    hth

  • by Frogg (27033) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:29AM (#29634717)

    i think they concluded the holes were sockets for stones for a number of reasons - one of which is because of the amount of chippings of Bluestone they found in the area, and another being that holes which have had stones in them have a variety of archaeological evidence to support such a conclusion, including the way the earth is packed, the way the hole is cut, and whether there's evidence for packing stones, etc, having been used to hold the stones in place.

    the combination of this kind of evidence plus the lack of evidence needed to support the hypothesis of wooden posts being in the holes (organic material would likely be left if wooden posts had been in the sockets) is generally how archaeologists draw their conclusions -- it's become quite a science over the years, and, as time passes, technological advances combined with a greater understanding gathered from other excavations/investigations allows them to build a better picture.

    they have found sites with sockets which they believe held wooden posts - so it's not as if they discount such a possibility outright, such things do indeed exist (see Woodhenge [wikipedia.org] for example - but there are plenty of other sites which feature 'post holes', although not usually in large circular arrangements such as discovered at Woodhenge)

    of course none of these conclusions/hypotheses can be proven as totally and absolutely 100% accurate, and it is often the case that archaeologists will draw new conclusions in later years, as technology improves and more information is gathered from other digs - which is exactly what they've been doing with these recent excavations in the Stonehenge area.

    personally, i'm of the opinion that if they say they don't think it was wooden posts but it was stones, then they're likely right - they are experts after all, and they don't really just make this stuff up, it's based upon the evidence at hand at the site and the culmination of years of study and research across many similar sites.

    (in some ways it's like if i repair a pc, and tell my customer that i think it's a hard-disk failure - i've based my decision upon years of experience and the evidence at hand - in such a situation, ie. being the repair-man, i am the 'expert' in that equation - of course, Joe Public may say 'how do you know? it could be the motherboard or the power-supply or something' - and sure, it could be open to interpretation and later discoveries of related information, but i'm likely to be right)

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