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17 September 2005
Digs shed new light on Stonehenge mystery

Three weeks of excavations at Durrington Walls have shed new light on the mysteries of the Stonehenge World Heritage site. The dig, which started on August 21, was due to end September 15, and has attracted interest from eminent archaeologists, who have been regularly visiting the site since the work got underway. On September 10th and 11th, members of the public had the chance to view the excavation sites and talk with members of the team carrying out the research project.
     The visits were arranged as part of the Heritage Open Days and they included demonstrations of Neolithic craft, performed by a re-enactment group.
     Durrington Walls lies close to Woodhenge and it is one of the key prehistoric monuments of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. It is a circular henge enclosure - the largest of its kind in Britain - and is surrounded by a bank and ditch that is even bigger than that at Avebury. And it was built at the same time as the first Bluestones were put up at Stonehenge over 5,000 years ago.
     The latest excavations are part of the Stonehenge Riverside Research Project, who’s goal is exploring the links between the Durrington Walls, the River Avon and Stonehenge. It is believed the once massive circular earthwork, which was about 500 meters (about a third of mile) in diameter, was erected for rituals and feasts. Recent excavations have also revealed traces of a causeway or walkway, leading from Durrington Walls to the Avon, about 30-metres away. This, say archaeologist, suggests that the dead were ritualistically carried from the earthworks to the river, where their remains were deposited. Archaeologists and students from Salisbury and the Universities of Bournemouth, Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol and London have been carrying out these excavations, of which some of the work has been filmed by BBC’s Channel 4 for a program that will be televised next spring.
     The Ancients still do have their stories to tell.

Source: Salisbury Journal & Avon Advertiser (14 September 2005)

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