|31 May 2014
Stonehenge was 'London of the Mesolithic'
Archaeologists now say the giant monuments of Stonehenge were built by indigenous hunters and homemakers rather than Neolithic new builders. The bones of red deer, wild boar, and aurochs found at a settlement 1600 metres from Stonehenge predate the settlers responsible for the massive pine posts at Stonehenge, suggesting people first lived there around 3,000 years before the site was created, proving that Amesbury is the oldest continually occupied settlement in Britain - since 8820 BCE. Experts previously thought the stones had been the work of European immigrants.
"The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways," said David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, who led the dig at Vespasian's Camp. "It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building and, presumably, worshipping monuments. The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself."
Land clearing had been considered part of the farming culture introduced by continental Neolithic immigrants during the 5th millennium BCE, but clearances around a source of spring water date to between 7500 and 4600 BCE, when Mesolithic culture had been seen as nomadic.
Around 31,000 Mesolithic worked flints were also found in a 16-square metre area during excavations lasting little more than a month. "Tool types suggest people were coming to it from far to the west of Stonehenge and from the east," added Jacques. "Another possible reason why people were attracted to the area was the striking bright pink colouring of the flint, which isn't that colour anywhere else in the country. The colouring is caused by algae... due to a combination of dappled light and the unusually warm spring water in the area."
Professor David John, of the Natural History Museum, said that the constant spring water temperature at the site would have been between 10 and 14 degrees, giving the flint its pink tinge once it had been removed from the stream for several hours.
Edited from Culture24 (6 May 2014), Daily Mail Online (9 May 2014)
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