The remnants of a large monument featuring somewhere between 90-200 stones have been found about two miles from Stonehenge, adding a whole new chapter to the Neolithic area’s history. Thought to be 4,500 years old, the 15ft stones were discovered lying on their sides under three feet of earth by archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar near the well-known stone pillars on Salisbury Plain in Southern England.
The archaeologists believe the monoliths served as a lining to a “ritual arena of sorts”, possibly used for religious rites or solstice rituals. The stones were uncovered beneath the other prominent henge known as Durrington Walls.
“We don’t think there’s anything quite like this anywhere else in the world. This is completely new and the scale is extraordinary” said Professor Vince Gaffney from the University of Bradford and one of the leaders of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape project, adding “We’re looking at one of the largest stone monuments in Europe and it has been under our noses for something like 4,000 years.”
Images found on the radar showed the stones lying down, but Gaffney believes they originally stood upright and were toppled over when the area was redeveloped by Neolithic builders many years ago. They then became lost under a large bank and are believed to have been incorporated into the southern border of the Durrington Walls “superhenge”. “This is a new element of how the Stonehenge landscape was transformed.” he notes.
“What we are starting to see is the largest surviving stone monument, preserved underneath a bank, that has ever been discovered in Britain and possibly in Europe. This is archaeology on steroids.”
Gaffney also believes the stones may have been placed by the same people behind Stonehenge, although he is reluctant to associate the two monuments directly.