| 6 January 2018
Henge discovered in England could have been an ancient sauna
Archaeologists unearthed traces of a henge in East Yorkshire (England), which is the first of its kind to be found in the region. The remains at the site at the Little Catwick Quarry, located near the North Sea coast, indicate it housed a structure made of wooden posts. A ditch and bank were later built to encircle the structure. Two entrances were created, one to face the northwest while the other stood on the southeast side.
Researchers have discovered a pit in the middle of the site, along with heavily burned stones. Similar stones were also found near the entrances and may have been discarded there after use.
"It was a meeting place, where all the little groups could come together. We found a lot of burnt stones, but they weren't burned in situ... It is possible that bodies were brought there to be cremated and then the remains buried elsewhere," lead archaeologist John Tibbles, from East Riding Archaeology
Tibbles believes the site may have a link to a cemetery in Sandsfield, a mile away, where 37 urns were found in a ring ditch. The artefacts date back to the same time as the henge - which experts believe was in use between the late Neolithic to early Bronze Age.
Jim Leary, the University of Reading's field-school director who led the excavation in Kent noted that there were no traces of coal or wood inside the building but proof of large fires outside. "I think what's happening is that people are heating up the stones on the external fire, and then carrying them into the building and placing them on the internal hearth," he said. "That would explain the lack of charcoal inside the building. What's more, the building is very well made, with a very substantial ledge perfect for sitting on, and the hearth really does dominate the whole space - there's no room to do anything else apart from sitting around it. There's no living space".
In a few months, the newly discovered henge will be dug up as a part of the expansion of the quarry but Tibbles said that the site details will first be recorded in painstaking detail. Other ancient finds in the area include a mammoth tusk and a 4,000 to 5,000-year-old Cumbrian greenstone axe.
Edited from The Yorkshire Post (29 December 2017), International Business Times (4 January 2018)
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