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Ancient Village Unearthed Near Stonehenge 186

cityhunter007 writes to point out coverage on CNN.com about an ancient village discovered two miles from Stonehenge that may have housed workers building the monument, or perhaps visitors after it was constructed. The village, at a site known as Durrington Walls, dates from about the time Stonehenge was built, 2600 BCE. The article says: "The researchers speculated that Durrington Walls was a place for the living and Stonehenge — where cremated remains have been found — was a cemetery and memorial... Stonehenge was oriented to face the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset, while the wooden circle at Durrington Walls faced the midwinter sunrise and midsummer sunset."
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Ancient Village Unearthed Near Stonehenge

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  • The Druids (Score:5, Funny)

    by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:07PM (#17821906) Homepage Journal
    Nobody knows who they were
    Or what they were doing...

    (But they did have the sense to make Stonehenge a bit taller than 18".)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:20PM (#17822040)
      Stonehenge!
      Where the demons dwell
      Where the banshees live and they do live well
      Stonehenge!
      Where a man is a man
      and the children dance to the pipes of pan
      Stonehenge!
      Tis a magic place
      where the moon doth rise with a dragon's face
      Stonehenge!
      Where the virgins lie
      and the prayer of devils fill the midnight sky

      And you my love, won't you take my hand
      We'll go back in time to that mystic land
      Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow
      I will take you there
      I will show you how
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:44PM (#17822254)
      But these are not the Druids you're looking for.

      (Yes I know, lame joke and not in context, but then, how often do you think you get the chance to post that joke on /.?)
  • Now we will truly know how well the banshees lived; that they did live well. Stonehenge!
  • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:12PM (#17821956)

    The article calls Durrington Walls a "place for the living"? The houses appear to have been abandoned while still intact, given the artefacts found within them.

    Silly question: where did everyone go?

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:33PM (#17822148) Homepage Journal
      It's pretty obvious isn't it? The wind knocked over one of the stones. One of the Druids came back and told a few of his mates over a beer. The word got around and people figured the sky was falling, so they ran for the hills.

      And with absolutely no evidence either way, that story is as good as any other.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mongoose ( 8480 )
      Pro'lly the bleed'n Romans, mate. BUGGER ALL!
    • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:40PM (#17822210)
      Silly question: where did everyone go?

      More importantly, does anyone know who they were, or what they were doing?
    • When they explore a bit more, they'll find that all the inhabitants died suddenly and were wearing Nike products.
      • Wouldn't it be ironic if they did find a disease that was killing all these inhabitants and stonhenge was a marker were they burned the infested bodies desinged to leave a reminder never to go back and live there again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      Silly question: where did everyone go?

      Brighton.

      KFG
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      Well, I wouldn't get too caught up in the theories from the archaeologists on this. The buildings are associated with Stonehenge by proximity in time and location, but only just. The area is littered with relics from the past (Avebury - which makes Stonehenge look like a roadside memorial, Silbury Hill - one of the largest man-made hills of ancient times, Woodhenge, the White Horse, the Giant, a veritable forest of longbarrows and roundbarrows, a giant meeting center roughly a hundred feet high and twice th
      • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @10:28PM (#17823072) Journal
        "The history of the area is confusing, though less because of the facts and more because of a desire to dramatize. There really isn't any need to make things sound more amazing than they really are, and all the archaeologists do when they do that is make themselves look stupid to anyone who knows even a little of the history of the region."

        One of the "facts" is that the buildings showed no real evidence of people living in them (ie: no domestic waste from "holiday makers"). That kind of shoots down your "I know better than the archeologists" rant that is based on a little knowledge and an apparent predisposition to translate everything into modern cultural terms. Occam's Razor may be good for deciding the simplest theory that explains a particular phenomena but it's is of no real use when talking about human behaviour in a very distant culture. (eg: A rain dance may be performed repeatedly until it rains at which point it is declared to have "worked", the dance is simply a random ritual and as such is more or less immune to a logic tool that removes unessasary random components).

        "There really isn't any need to make things sound more amazing than they really are, and all the archaeologists do when they do that is make themselves look stupid to anyone who knows even a little of the history of the region."

        I agree that a little knowledge can lead people into wild fantasy, but I don't think that particular problem lies with the archaeologists in this case. The archaeologists evidence for their version of events may be weak, your questions may be pertinent but your bald assertions don't even register.
        • by jd ( 1658 )
          I seem to recall mentioning something about people not living in the houses. Oh, yes, there it is. I thought so.

          The archaeologists are making an association on a basis for which the data they present to support said basis is actually contrary to the association they are using the data to present. This is not a "bald assertion", but comes from the well-known history of the area and from the well-known history of Skara Brae, not to mention the more recent development of DNA analysis to genetically identify

          • If they can back their ideas up, great, but damnit, replacing tried-and-tested theories with something for which the best they can cite is a lack of evidence?! That may be how religions work, but that is NOT how science is done and I would thank them for keeping their paws off if they're not willing to meet the standards of their discipline.

            That is how science works. People often develop and publish alternate theories based on gaps in current knowledge. Sometimes they are rejected and forgotten, sometim

            • by jd ( 1658 )
              Have to correct you there. Theories are always based on existing data, for the purpose of making predictions about the unknown. When a theory is made where there is no data, the tendency is to try to make the data - when it becomes available - fit the theory. The theory should evolve to fit facts, facts should never be coerced into fitting theories. The former is science, the latter is religion.
              • Theories are always based on existing data, for the purpose of making predictions about the unknown. When a theory is made where there is no data, the tendency is to try to make the data - when it becomes available - fit the theory.

                It is true people often attempt to make data fit a theory. However, there is a need in science to make assumptions when there is no data. As we make discoveries, we remove assumptions and insert facts. With no evidence, Einstein assumed the universe was static and developed t

          • "If I mouth off about this, or any other subject, you might want to consider if there might be a reason - particularly when I make it clear that it is not on an emotional basis but on intellectual or professional grounds."

            You originally prefaced your speculation with "To answer the question:", however you also claimed the speculation of the archaeologists made them look "stupid". The fact that both versions are speculation by knowledgable people makes your argument the one that is laden with emotion. Thu
          • by Frogg ( 27033 )
            from what i recall of what i read...

            some of the houses seem not to have been lived in.

            the one hundred or so 14ft by 14ft houses all seemed to have been inhabited, and those living there (permanently or otherwise) seemed to have partied quite hard, or at least had a fairly lavish lifestyle comparitive to other living sites in the country.

            also, there is evidence of several larger buildings which appear to have been utilised in some way but do not have the same detritus present, suggesting that they have not b
            • by jd ( 1658 )
              That sounds a reasonable picture. If it looked way out, I'd be googling for the source, but I think it reasonable to say that what you describe is very likely what was actually said. I think what bothers me the most is that this is about the same age as the second-generation Skara Brae, follows the same basic design, but is definitely more primitive and if you assume layout follows some form of social norm, there is a different social structure present.
              • by Frogg ( 27033 )
                apparently, at the durrington walls settlement near stonehenge, there is evidence of over 100 of these smaller houses, whereas the remains on skara brae are less than ten houses if i recall correctly. having such a large amount of people living together would necessitate a different social structure to the smaller, more enclosed settlement at skara brae. (sleight aside, maybe the skara brae settlement remains were part of a larger settlement, part of which may now be under sea or buried? - just a thought)

                ma
                • by jd ( 1658 )
                  Heh! We're always "just thinking aloud". That's how most discoveries are made. That's why most discoveries are made by people with a good imagination and the ability to start a sentence with "maybe". (I will probably never make a discovery, for that reason. I'm good at making connections, but lousy at the musings and speculative thinking that's needed. That is why I can tell you how certain connections could work, if a given theory was assumed to be true, but you're more likely to be the person to come up w
    • Quite a few cultures have whole towns for their dead, where they 'live'. And of course they need their usual tools for their everyday (after)life.

      I wouldn't rule out the possibility that this was just that: A town for the souls of the deceased.

      Stonehenge would be more a place for the living and the worship of the various nature phenomenons that can be observed from various points inside the megalith monument. The stones are aligned with key points of the yearly changes in sunrise and sunset, and a few other
    • Silly question: where did everyone go?
      Perhaps a precursor of H5N1 got them all. I seriously wonder about the wisdom of excavating and opening tombs. Havn't people gotton seriously sick after going into the Pyramids?
      • Silly question: where did everyone go?
        Perhaps a precursor of H5N1 got them all.I seriously wonder about the wisdom of excavating and opening tombs. Havn't people gotton seriously sick after going into the Pyramids?
        Only because they were seriously sick before going into the pyramids, or they were old, or maybe because the Nile region has alot of diseases.
  • anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:14PM (#17821978)
    Nothing to do with Stonehenge per se, just an anecdote. We have a neolithic stone, known as the Long Stone, a ten minute walk down the road from where I'm writing this, which is on the edge of the Wye Valley , right up against the Welsh border. It's a single stone, sticking up at an angle of about 75 degrees, perhaps seven feet tall. A few years ago I had to walk from my village to the nearest town to sign on the dole - a tedious 40 minute slog along unmaintained road verges - but passing the stone, I always felt compelled to reach out and give it a pat. I'm a hardcore, Dawkins-type rationalist, but I don't see any contradiction between that and a consciously irrational but of behaviour like patting the stone... it fits my brain, somehow, and it feels good to be connected with the people who lived here four thousand years ago. Poor bastards, it must have been miserable during the winter nights.
    • I say that those who mod you down are just jealous!
    • Re:anecdote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AlHunt ( 982887 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @09:18PM (#17822520) Homepage Journal

      We have a neolithic stone, known as the Long Stone, a ten minute walk down the road from where I'm writing this, ... and it feels good to be connected with the people who lived here four thousand years ago
      And, of course, some whistledick modded you down.

      Connection to the past is kind of the point of preserving Stone Henge and other historic' places. I live in a house built around 1875 and even that short time is a great connection to the past.



      It's easy to stand somewhere like Stonehenge, Long Stone or my parlor and imagine all the people that went before you. It creates a sense of place, of permanence, a sense that long after you're gone people will be standing in the same place doing the same thing you're doing.


      • by Darby ( 84953 )
        Connection to the past is kind of the point of preserving Stone Henge and other historic' places. I live in a house built around 1875 and even that short time is a great connection to the past.

        Agreed. I lived in 2 different houses in Chicago, before buying my current place, the newest of which was built in 1894.
        Just looking at the old places really does instill a sense of awe for how much has gone on before.
        Prior to that, I went to England which has some old stuff ;-)
        Since then one of my friends moved to Bo
      • by ashitaka ( 27544 )
        You're spot on about connections to the past.

        I like pointing out the 10m-high wall at the end of my uncle's back yard in Lincoln was built by soldiers.

        Roman soldiers.

        Around when Jesus Christ lived.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      What's so irrational about feeling a degree of kinship with neolithic geeks? Very hardy neolithic geeks, too. There's also an element of the unknown, too, which is something that also tends to appeal to those who are in any way intelligent or curious. And talking of curiosity, I'll bet you almost anything that nobody has carried out even a basic archaeological survey of the area.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'll bet you almost anything that nobody has carried out even a basic archaeological survey of the area
        Well let's start. Does someone have the coordinates and I'll look it up [nationalgeographic.com] on google...
        • Re:anecdote (Score:5, Informative)

          by jd ( 1658 ) <`imipak' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @02:20AM (#17824678) Homepage Journal
          There are 132 neolithic sites at the end of the Wye river, so it took me a while to find. There's a short writeup and some photos at The Modern Antiquarian [themodernantiquarian.com]. The Ordinance Survey coordinates are SO559120, and Yahoo maps places it somewhere along the Gloucester to Monmouth Road [yahoo.com] which I'm taking to be the Little Dean Road/Speech House Road, although the A4151/A4136 would also fit the description. I'm pretty bad at converting the OS system to long/lat, but if you have a calculator that can do that, you'll be better off using those.

          The Long Stone description shows no indication of any archaeological findings and a reference by BBC Gloucester only talks about ley lines.

          • Excellent detective work! I did half-wonder if I wanted to reveal all those clues to my ICBM coordinates on Slashdot, didn't quite expect this though. The write-ups are correct but the map ref is wrong -- as you say, there are lots of similar lumps and bumps around the area. this is the best Google Maps can do [google.co.uk], not terribly impressive I'm afraid. images search finds it OK, though [google.co.uk]. Incidentally there's another local legend, that the grooves you can see running down from the top were to allow blood from the
            • by jd ( 1658 )
              I would say you are correct. Legends get associated with all kinds of standing stones. The one from near where I used to live ("Robin Hood's Picking Stones") has been classed as everything from sacrificial stones to a medieval archery range. (Current theory is that it is the remains of a double-headed Mercian stone cross, but I can't say I'm completely convinced. It's different enough from other Mercian stone crosses I've seen to convince me that there's more to the story.)
              • There are several other standing stones in the area, and a couple of big outcrops that are clearly natural formations; the Wye Valley is of course full of named cliffs and other formations, some of which may or may not be man-made. At a rough guess 50% are named for Arthurian or Robin Hood characters. There's a grubby fishpond that's Marion's Pool (as well as Marion's Enclosure, which is an area of woodland); Arthur's Cave, Merlin's Stone, and a couple of variants. One of the most interesting to me (partly
    • I was born in the UK but grew up in Australia, I visited the UK last year for the first time since 1966. I know exactly what you mean, I had a chance to wander through a neolitic village near John O'Groats (the guy at the B&B told us how to find it), it was all overgrown by long grass as it had only recently been excavated and partialy reburried, it was larger and in similar condintion to the nearby Skara Brea (including the Flintstone style furniture). You cannot visit places like that and fail to feel
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I want to thank you for your thoughtful comment. It made me feel good today, especially when contrasted with the "Jim Gray Is Missing" posting where the majority of posts are yukking it up about a man who right now may be dying alone in the ocean. Emotional connection to others and empathy, I think these are traits that make us better than animals. Some people feel a connection to people 4,000 years ago, and some people don't even feel a twinge when they hear about people suffering right now.
  • by Ambitwistor ( 1041236 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:18PM (#17822018)
    Before Stonehenge, there was Woodhenge and Strawhenge, but a big bad wolf came and blew them down, and three little piggies were relocated to the projects.
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:25PM (#17822084)
    2 miles of walking is about half an hour each way. So the Stonehenge workers spent a hour-a-day getting to and from work.

    Some things never change.
  • oldnews (Score:3, Funny)

    by destroygbiv ( 896968 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (vibgyortsed)> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @08:26PM (#17822096) Homepage
    no pun intended (or is there?)
  • The presence of an early Starbucks proves it was a city and likely to be one of the earliest geek sites.
  • Boy I bet the ancestors of the Stonehenge builders will be pissed when they get the bill for the delinquent VAT taxes on Stonehenge and the new village.
  • Does Randall Schwartz know?
  • by tbone1 ( 309237 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @09:37AM (#17826578) Homepage
    ... is Keith Richards' birth certificate.

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