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.
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. What might be a burial mound has been found in the centre, although this 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. Mike Pitts, editor of the magazine British Archaeology, put forward an alternative interpretation 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.
Pitts later suggested that the postholes could even be modern – an Ordnance Survey map from the 1970s showed a circular fence marked out close to the site. This was reported by The Mail on Sunday which wrongly claimed that Pitts was "in no doubt that this was a modern fence line". Vince Gaffney made it clear, however, that the post holes were too large to be for modern fence posts, and Pitts quickly withdrew the suggestion that the pits were modern.
- "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.
- Kennedy, Maev (2010-07-22). "Stonehenge twin discovered stone's throw away". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- "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