Durrington Walls is the largest stone monument in Europe and it has been spotted near Stonehenge.
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A new gigantic stone monument has been discovered near Stonehenge. Durrington Walls is one of the largest known henge monuments measuring 500m in diameter and thought to have been built around 4,500 years ago.
Measuring more than 1.5 kilometers in circumference, it is surrounded by a ditch up to 17.6m wide and an outer bank up to a height of 1m.
The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project team, using non-invasive geophysical prospection and remote sensing technologies, has now discovered evidence for a row of up to 90 standing stones, some of which may have originally measured up to 4.5m in height.
Many of these stones have survived because they were pushed over and the massive bank of the later henge raised over the recumbent stones or the pits in which they stood.
"Our high resolution ground penetrating radar data has revealed an amazing row of up to 90 standing stones a number of which have survived after being pushed over and a massive bank placed over the stones. In the east up to 30 stones, measuring up to size of 4.5 m x 1.5 x 1 m, have survived below the bank whereas elsewhere the stones are fragmentary or represented by massive foundation pits," says Professor Neubauer, director of the LBI ArchPro.
Essentially forming a C-shaped 'arena', the monument may have surrounded traces of springs and a dry valley leading from there into the Avon. Although none of the stones have yet been excavated a unique sarsen standing stone, "The Cuckoo Stone", remains in the adjacent field and this suggests that other stones may have come from local sources.
Previous, intensive study of the area around Stonehenge had led archaeologists to believe that only Stonehenge and a smaller henge at the end of the Stonehenge Avenue possessed significant stone structures.
The latest surveys now provide evidence that Stonehenge's largest neighbor, Durrington Walls, had an earlier phase which included a large row of standing stones probably of local origin and that the context of the preservation of these stones is exceptional and the configuration unique to British archaeology.
This new discovery has significant implications for our understanding of Stonehenge and its landscape setting. The earthwork enclosure at Durrington Walls was built about a century after the Stonehenge sarsen circle (in the 27th century BC), but the new stone row could well be contemporary with or earlier than this.
"This discovery of a major new stone monument, which has been preserved to a remarkable extent, has significant implications for our understanding of Stonehenge and its landscape setting. Not only does this new evidence demonstrate a completely unexpected phase of monumental architecture at one of the greatest ceremonial sites in prehistoric Europe, the new stone row could well be contemporary with the famous Stonehenge sarsen circle or even earlier," explains Professor Gaffney.
"The extraordinary scale, detail and novelty of the evidence produced by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, which the new discoveries at Durrington Walls exemplify, is changing fundamentally our understanding of Stonehenge and the world around it. Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be re-written," says Paul Garwood, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, and the principal prehistorian on the project.
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The findings were announced on the first day of the British Science Festival on September 7th, hosted this year at the University of Bradford.