| 5 August 2017
Long barrow near Stonehenge to be excavated
A Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge could contain human remains more than 5,000 years old, experts say. The monument lies in Pewsey Vale, halfway between Avebury and Stonehenge in Wiltshire, and was identified in aerial photographs and followed up by geophysical survey imagery.
As part of the University's final Archaeology Field School, students and staff, with the support of volunteers from the area, have investigated the site of a Neolithic long barrow burial mound in a place known as Cat's Brain - the first to be fully investigated in Wiltshire in half a century.
The monument, which predates nearby Marden Henge by over 1,000 years, is believed it could contain human remains buried there in about 3,600 BCE. The Cat's Brain long barrow, found in the middle of a farmer's field, consists of two ditches flanking what appears to be a central building. This may have been covered with a mound made of the earth dug from the ditches, but has been ploughed flat over many centuries.
Dr Jim Leary, director of the university's archaeology field school, said: "Opportunities to fully investigate long barrows are virtually unknown in recent times and this represents a fantastic chance to carefully excavate one using the very latest techniques and technology. Discovering the buried remains of what could be the ancestors of those who built Stonehenge would be the cherry on the cake of an amazing project."
Dr Leary's co-director, Amanda Clarke, said: "This incredible discovery of one of the UK's first monuments offers a rare glimpse into this important period in history. We are setting foot inside a significant building that has lain forgotten and hidden for thousands of years."
In addition to the Cat's Brain long barrow site, the University of Reading's Archaeology Field School is working at Marden henge, the largest henge in the country, built around 2,400 BC, also within the Vale of Pewsey. Little archaeological work has been carried out in the Vale, especially compared with the well-known nearby sites of Avebury and Stonehenge. The project aims to fill this gap in our knowledge and highlight the importance of the area in the Neolithic period.
Edited from BBC News, PhysOrg (12 July 2017)
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