LONDON — A brand new archaeological discovery on the web site of an historic village close to Stonehenge guarantees to supply important clues about life greater than 4,500 years in the past within the Neolithic interval, and will even “write an entire new chapter within the story” of the celebrated construction’s panorama, consultants say.
The discover additionally makes the location the most important prehistoric construction in Britain and probably in Europe, in accordance with Vincent Gaffney, of the College of Bradford, an archaeologist concerned within the evaluation.
“It has fully remodeled how we perceive this panorama — there isn’t any doubt about it,” he mentioned.
Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site within the English countryside, has lengthy drawn guests to admire its looming stone slabs, whilst its origins and goal are nonetheless being explored.
The research, published online on Sunday, outlines the invention of a giant circle of shafts surrounding the traditional village — generally known as the Durrington Partitions henge monument — about two miles from Stonehenge. The trenches, every of which is round 30 ft huge and 15 ft deep, are thought to have been a part of a ritual boundary space between the 2 websites.
Uncovered via distant sensing know-how and floor sampling, the invention may quantity to some of the important finds ever made on the web site, archaeologists and consultants mentioned.
“Because the place the place the builders of Stonehenge lived and feasted, Durrington Partitions is vital to unlocking the story of the broader Stonehenge panorama,” Nick Snashall, the Nationwide Belief archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Web site, mentioned in an announcement.
Calling the discovering an “astonishing discovery,” she mentioned it will “write an entire new chapter within the story of the Stonehenge panorama.”
Over the previous decade, the traditional web site at Stonehenge has been slowly revealing its secrets — as well as details about the lives of those who built it — thanks largely to the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, a partnership among several universities and research institutions that was behind the latest discovery.
Stonehenge is positioned to align with the sunrise and sunset on the winter and summer solstices. And while the biggest questions about the structure — why was it built, and what purpose did it serve? — have yet to be definitively answered, many experts say it was probably a sacred site that people visited for significant ceremonies, including burials.
The latest discovery was made using new techniques including a magnetic remote sensing survey of the area — technology that has both revolutionized experts’ understanding of the site and led to vast changes in archaeology in general, Dr. Gaffney said.
“People have been studying Stonehenge forever, and you shouldn’t be able to discover something this large still,” he said. “But it’s been made possible by the technology.”
The result has been a growing insight into daily life experienced by people several millenniums ago.
“Stonehenge was for the dead, Durrington was for the living,” Dr. Gaffney said. “But now, what we are probably looking at was this great big boundary around them probably warning people of what they are approaching.”
He said that the pits had been set at a deliberate distance and that their locations would have had to be paced out from a central point. That is a significant clue about people living in the area at the time, he said, because it “means they could count” — making it among the earliest evidence for counting in what is now Britain.
Experts in English historical sites greeted the discovery with excitement but said that further exploration was required in order to fully grasp its significance.
Susan Greaney, a historian at English Heritage, which manages Stonehenge and hundreds of other historic sites, welcomed further investigation. She said in a statement that the research had “uncovered tantalizing hints of yet another new archaeological feature in the Stonehenge landscape, this time on an extraordinary scale.”
Dr. Gaffney said that exploration would continue, but that there would be no rush to excavate. “Remote sensing has taken us a long way,” he said, “and I think it’s going to take us further still.”