New discoveries rewriting Stonehenge landscape
Archaeologists working near the Stonehenge World Heritage Site have discovered important new sites that rewrite the Stonehenge landscape. Some sites predate the construction of Stonehenge itself. The remains, found at Larkhill and Bulford, were unearthed during excavations ahead of the construction of new Army Service Family Accommodation.
The Larkhill enclosure has produced freshly broken pottery, dumps of worked flint and even a large stone saddle quern used to turn grain into flour. The Neolithic period saw the first use of domesticated crops and this find provides evidence of this. Early farming would have caused significant localised change across the landscape as small fields were created for the first time. Human skull fragments were also found in the ditch, probably reflecting ceremonial practices and religious belief.
|Around 300 feet (100 metres) of the ditches have been excavated so far. The researchers found evidence |
of cattle bones, ceramic dishes and human remains [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]
The people who built the causewayed enclosure are the ancestors of the builders of Stonehenge and were shaping the landscape into which the stone circle was placed. Their work shows that this was a special landscape even before Stonehenge was constructed. People were already living and working within what we now call the Stonehenge landscape and they were building the structures that would culminate in the Stonehenge complex of stones and earthworks. The Larkhill site shows that they had the social organisation necessary to come together to build significant earthworks and the resources to support the work, as well as the people to carry it out. The offerings in the ditches also show the rich religious life they had created.
|Finds include ceramics, flint arrowheads, antlers and a quern stone [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]|
While part of the site has been investigated the majority of the monument remains undisturbed within the Larkhill Garrison.
At nearby Bulford archaeologists have found further evidence of prehistoric activity. Although henges are well-known across the landscape, Bulford has a double henge, the only one known in Britain. Each henge is formed by an open space enclosed by a ditch. The earliest phases were created around 2900 BC with the enclosures formed by ditches dug in segments with openings to the north. This form was altered when both were enclosed within further ditches in the Early Bronze Age (2000 BC), perhaps showing that their function changed or because they had been closed down.
|The Trundle near Chichester, Sussex, is an Iron Age Hill Fort built around a Neolithic causewayed enclosure. Researchers |
believe that causewayed enclosures were rapidly erected all over southern England in just 75 years
[Credit: English Heritage]
Martin Brown, Principal Archaeologist for WYG said “These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular. The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit: They were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world. It is an enormous privilege to hold their tools and investigate their lives.”
Archaeological work on both sites is being managed and directed by WYG on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), with fieldwork undertaken by Wessex Archaeology.
First Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Research Framework
The three volumes of the Research Framework consist of a Resource Assessment of the Avebury part of the World Heritage Site, summarising the known archaeological and historical record and the key techniques used in their investigation; a summary of Research Activity in the Stonehenge Landscape, summarising the advances in knowledge in that part of the World Heritage Site since the publication of the original Stonehenge Research Framework in 2005; and an Agenda and Strategy which builds on the accompanying resource assessments to provide the first fully integrated Research Framework for the whole of the World Heritage Site.
You can download copies of all sections by clicking on the links below:
A Research Framework for the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site: Avebury Resource Assessement. Compiled by Matt Leivers and Andrew B. Powell.
A Research Framework for the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site: Research Activity in the Stonehenge Landscape 2005-2012 Pt I. Timothy Darwill.
A Research Framework for the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site: Research Activity in the Stonehenge Landscape 2005-2012 Pt II. Timothy Darwill.
Source: YWG [November 22, 2016]