British researchers have discovered the remains of a major new prehistoric stone monument that dwarfs the nearby, more well-known site of Stonehenge. Using non-invasive remote sensing technologies, the ‘Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project‘ team found evidence for a row of up to 90 standing stones – some of which may have originally stood 4.5 metres in height – beneath the massive bank of a henge later raised over the top of the megaliths, burying them out of sight for millennia.
The discovery was made at Durrington Walls, one of the largest known henge monuments (measuring 500m in diameter), which is thought to have been built around 4,500 years ago.
Although none of the stones have yet been excavated a unique sarsen standing stone, “The Cuckoo Stone”, remains in the adjacent field and this suggests that other stones may have come from local sources.
…Previous, intensive study of the area around Stonehenge had led archaeologists to believe that only Stonehenge and a smaller henge at the end of the Stonehenge Avenue possessed significant stone structures. The latest surveys now provide evidence that Stonehenge’s largest neighbour, Durrington Walls, had an earlier phase which included a large row of standing stones probably of local origin and that the context of the preservation of these stones is exceptional and the configuration unique to British archaeology.
The discovery of these buried megaliths has significant implications for British archaeology. As the enclosure at Durrington Walls was built about a century after the Stonehenge sarsen circle, the newly discovered stone row is likely from an earlier period than this. With evidence of up to 90 stones discovered, some of massive size, this could demonstrate an earlier phase of megalithic architecture previously unrecognised.
The discovery also reimagines the landscape that was already in place when Stonehenge was being constructed.
“This discovery of a major new stone monument, which has been preserved to a remarkable extent, has significant implications for our understanding of Stonehenge and its landscape setting,” said Professor Vince Gaffney, one of the archaeologists leading the project. “Not only does this new evidence demonstrate a completely unexpected phase of monumental architecture at one of the greatest ceremonial sites in prehistoric Europe, the new stone row could well be contemporary with the famous Stonehenge sarsen circle or even earlier.”
This new discovery – see computer-visualisation below – will quite literally rewrite the history of books of Great Britain.