| 2 September 2006
Seeking the secrets of Stonehenge
Archaeologists have been digging ancient sites around Stonehenge to find clues about when they were first built. The dig, being conducted by archaeologists from several universities, is part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, which is investigating Woodhenge, Stonehenge Cursus and Durrington Walls, to learn more about their connection to the famous stone monument.
Joshua Pollard, senior lecturer in Archaeology in Bristol University, who is in charge of the dig at Woodhenge, where a timber circle once stood, said: "The timber is associated with the living and may have been used for feasting or linked with the solstice whereas stone is connected with the ancestors. The people in the Neolithic era often felt their day to day lives were just transitory but they put more effort into sacred monuments for their ancestors. The stone may be a version of the timber monuments."
The area at Woodhenge was last excavated in 1926 and concrete posts were put in the places where the timber used to stand, but the team has discovered other possible timber holes and also stone holes. Other discoveries include pieces of flint, which were used for tools and weapons, and animal bones, possibly from feasts, which can be used by carbon dating technology to discover when the site might have been built within a 100-year timeframe.
Beatrice Greenfield, an archaeology student, explained they had been dispelling a popular myth about a grave on the site, believed to be that of a child who was sacrificed. "We've been able to wipe out a local myth about the grave," she said. Unfortunately, the truth will always remain something of a mystery because the bones were destroyed during the Second World War.
Source: This is Wiltshire (1 September 2006)
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