New henge at Stonehenge
The new henge discovered at Stonehenge appears to be a Neolithic henge and timber circle 900m from Stonehenge itself. It was discovered in July 2010, two weeks into a project looking at the archaeology around the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, United Kingdom. The project, scheduled to run until 2013, is looking at how the surrounding landscape would have looked when Stonehenge was first built.
Described as a new "hengiform" monument, it is located "at the site of Amesbury 50, to the northwest of Stonehenge". Amesbury 50 is a previously known round barrow which survives as slight earthworks (grid reference SU11474267). It forms part of the Cursus Barrow Group. The barrow comprises a central oval mound flanked by two asymmetric side ditches which have opposing entrances to the southwest and northeast. The barrow mound stands around 0.5 metre high and measures around 20 metres in diameter. The barrow was considered in good condition in 1913 but was damaged by ploughing in the mid-20th-century.
The henge was found using ground-penetrating radar and magnetometers; the discovery is below ground and not visible to the naked eye. The resulting images suggest a large circular ditch feature which appears to have been dug out in scoops. There is also evidence for a ring of 1 metre wide pits around the inside edge of the ditch which may have supported a free standing wooden structure. The ditch appears to have two entrances; one in the north-east and another in the south-west, thus it appears to have the same alignment as Stonehenge. The central burial mound, in this interpretation, may have been built at a later date.
The project, called Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes, centres on the general landscape at the site. It is headed by Vince Gaffney and is run in conjunction with English Heritage, the National Trust, the University of Bradford, the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham, and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, the latter two organisations funding the project. Its aim is to map 14 km2 of the Stonehenge landscape, to visually recreate the iconic prehistoric monument and its surroundings and to transform how people understand the landscape of the area.
Some doubts have, however, been expressed about the henge. Archaeologist Joshua Pollard pointed out that "the less exciting interpretation is that it's just a peculiar Bronze Age barrow". Mike Pitts, editor of the magazine British Archaeology, also suggested that the site was the remains of a barrow, with a mound in the centre, with an outer ring of posts, surrounded by an irregular ditch that would have served as a quarry for the mound.
- "Archaeologists unearth Neolithic henge at Stonehenge". BBC News. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- "A new 'henge' discovered at Stonehenge". University of Birmingham. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- Gaffney, C.; Gaffney, V.; Neubauer, W.; Baldwin, E.; Chapman, H.; Garwood, P.; Moulden, H.; Sparrow, T.; Bates, R.; Löcker, K.; Hinterleitner, A.; Trinks, I.; Nau, E.; Zitz, T.; Floery, S.; Verhoeven, G.; Doneus, M. (2012). "The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project". Archaeological Prospection 19 (2): 147. doi:10.1002/arp.1422.
- Amesbury 50 (Goddard) (942661). PastScape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- Cursus Barrow Group (219681). PastScape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- Kennedy, Maev (2010-07-22). "Stonehenge twin discovered stone's throw away". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- Owen, James (2010-07-23). "Stonehenge Had Neighboring, Wooden Twin—More to Come?". National Geographic. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- "How significant is the 'new henge'?". BBC News. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
- Analysing the new site near Stonehenge – Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper, August 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
- "Woodhenge: Is this one of the greatest discoveries of archaeology...or a simple farmer's fence?". Mail Online. 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
- Final comment on geophysics survey – Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper, December 17, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-13