Archaeologists carrying out excavations at the Durrington Walls earthworks, just two miles from the world-famous stone circle of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, have discovered evidence of an enormous 500-meter diameter circle of timber posts. Experts have said the finding is of international significance.
In a world exclusive, The Independent has revealed that the newly-discovered wooden henge at Durrington Walls consisted of 200-300 timber posts measuring 6-7 meters in height and 60 – 70 centimeters in diameter. The posts were buried in 1.5-meter-deep holes, two of which have been fully excavated so far.
The discovery was made just two miles from the world-famous stone circle of Stonehenge (public domain)Durrington Walls is the name given to a giant earthwork measuring around 1,640 feet (500 meters) in diameter and surrounded by a ditch of up to 54ft (16 meters) wide and a bank of more than three foot (1 meter) high. It is built on the same summer solstice alignment as Stonehenge. The enormous structure is believed to have formed a gigantic ceremonial complex in the Stonehenge landscape.
The most intriguing aspect of the finding is that the construction of the wooden circle stopped abruptly before it was finished, around 2460 BC. The posts were removed from the holes, which were then filled in with blocks of chalk and then covered by a bank made of chalk rubble. In the bottom of one of the excavated post holes, archaeologists found a spade made from a cow’s shoulder blade.
A tool made from a bison shoulder blade, which would be similar to the spade found in the bottom of one of the post holes. (foresthistory.org)According to The Independent, researchers believe this sudden cessation in construction is indicative of a dramatic change in religious and/or political direction, possibly due to the arrival in Britain around this time of the Beaker culture (2800 – 1800 BC). The Beaker culture is thought to have originated in either the Iberian Peninsula, the Netherlands or Central Europe and subsequently spread out across Western Europe. They are known for a particular pottery type they developed, but also a complex cultural phenomenon involving shared ideological, cultural and religious ideas.
The distinctive Bell Beaker pottery drinking vessels shaped like an inverted bell (public domain)“It was as if the religious "revolutionaries" were trying, quite literally, to bury the past,” reports The Independent. “The question archaeologists will now seek to answer is whether it was the revolutionaries’ own past they were seeking to bury – or whether it was another group or cultural tradition’s past that was being consigned to the dustbin of prehistory.”
“The new discoveries at Durrington Walls reveal the previously unsuspected complexity of events in the area during the period when Stonehenge’s largest stones were being erected – and show just how politically and ideologically dynamic British society was at that particularly crucial stage in prehistory,” said Dr Nick Snashall, the senior National Trust archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site [via The Independent].
Top image: Main: An aerial photograph of Durrington Walls. In the North, West and South, a line of trees handily outlines the shape of the bank, a faint impression can be seen in the East, however, to the right of the road. The River Avon, and the area where the avenue connected it to Durrington Walls, can be seen in the bottom-right (pegasusarchive.org). Inset: An illustration of a similar wooden henge located at Cairnpapple Hill, Scotland.
By April Holloway
By April Holloway