Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

Under Stonehenge

Wiltshire, England

Monday, December 15, 2014

Top-Ten-StonehengeRemote-sensing surveys have revealed a vast array of archaeological features in the vicinity of Stonehenge, making clear that it was part of a much broader ceremonial landscape that included monuments, shrines, burial mounds, and pits.

 

As if Stonehenge weren’t spectacular enough, an unprecedented digital survey—involving aerial laser scanning, ground-penetrating radar, and other geophysical and remote-sensing technologies—has revealed that the iconic 5,000-year-old standing stones were part of a much broader Neolithic ceremonial landscape. Unveiled at the British Science Festival in September, the research has revealed 17 new monuments and thousands of as-yet-uninterpreted archaeological features, including small shrines, burial mounds, and massive pits, across nearly five square miles of the Salisbury Plain.

 

Top-Ten-Stonehenge-MosaicThe research is also providing new insights into already documented features. For example, geophysical surveying of the “Cursus”—a two-mile-long mound north of Stonehenge—identified two massive pits that align astronomically with Stonehenge, in addition to a series of gaps in the mound. “The pits show how the Cursus, which was constructed 400 years earlier than Stonehenge, influenced the placement of the standing stones,” explains Vincent Gaffney of the University of Bradford. “We think that the gaps in the Cursus would have guided the movement of people as they processed to Stonehenge, contradicting the [previous] thinking that few people approached the standing stones.” Further, remote sensing at Durrington Walls—a mile-wide ritual monument close to Stonehenge—revealed that it used to be associated with up to 60 huge standing stones, some of which may now lie under earthen banks. “In the past we had this idea that Stonehenge was standing in splendid isolation, but it wasn’t,” says Gaffney. “It’s absolutely huge.”


Under Stonehenge
Wiltshire, England
Seaton Down Hoard
Devon, England
Greece's Biggest Tomb
Amphipolis, Greece
Buddhism, in the Beginning
Lumbini, Nepal
Decoding Neanderthal Genetics
Jerusalem, Israel
Canada Finds Erebus
Victoria Strait, Canada
Sunken Byzantine Basilica
Lake Iznik, Turkey
Mummification Before the Pharaohs
York, England
Bluetooth's Fortress
Køge, Denmark
Naia—the 13,000-Year-Old Native American
Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement