Stonehenge was ancient rave spot, new theory says

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British researchers on Saturday unveiled a new theory for the origins of Stonehenge, saying the ancient stone circle was originally a graveyard and venue for mass celebrations.
The findings would overturn the long-held belief that Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in southwestern England was created as a Stone Age astronomical calendar or observatory. 

A team led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London said Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is both older and had a different function than previously thought. 
“In many ways our findings are rewriting the established story of Stonehenge,” Parker Pearson said. 
The archaeologists carried out a decade of research which included excavations, laboratory work and the analysis of 63 sets of ancient human remains. 
They said the original Stonehenge appeared to have been a graveyard for elite families built around 3000 BC, 500 years earlier than the site that is famous today. 
The remains of many cremated bodies were marked by the bluestones of Stonehenge, Pearson said. 
Further analysis of cattle teeth from 80,000 animal bones excavated from the site also suggest that around 2500 BC, Stonehenge was the site of vast communal feasts. 
These would have been attended by up to one tenth of the British population at one time in what Parker Pearson said resembled “Glastonbury festival and a motorway building scheme at the same time.” 
It seemed that ancient people travelled to celebrate the winter and summer solstices but also to build the monument, he said. 
“Stonehenge was a monument that brought ancient Britain together,” he said.

Written By: PhysOrg
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6 COMMENTS

  1. The researchers said their findings also gave a clue to why the monument stopped being used—another mystery that has baffled archaeologists. The earlier timeline they propose suggests that Stonehenge was built before the arrival of the “Tory people” who brought in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994.

    fixed

  2. This was on TV the other night, the evidence was quite compelling I thought. Particularly the analysis of the animal bones at the nearby campsite, showing that they had been brought from all over Britain with possibly as many as 4,000 out of a total human population of 10,000 attending.
    Well done to them for managing to un-pick the mess left in the 30s when the cremated human remains buried beneath the blue stones were all dumped in one pile. I think this also showed that the people buried had come from all over Britain and being buried in alarge circle where no one seemed to be above another in status did seem to suggest some kind of closely connected population. At least until those Beaker idiots rocked up with their copper bling and spoiled the show.

  3. Another fantastic example of why first opinions or “established story of Stonehenge” should sometimes be ignored. Funny how research often gets us closer to what might actually be the truth.

  4. I first visited Stonehenge while staying at a friend’s nearby for the weekend. It is magnificent – and several things strike me about it from the literature connected with it.

    Firstly, the massive uprights which followed the earlier ‘circle’ were carved so that they gave a proper proportion via perspective, and were smoothed out on the inside, apparently, whereas the outsides were not. This form of perspective is similar to the way classical columns in Greek and Roman architecture are fashioned, to maintain harmonic proportions when observed from the ground. The smoother inner surfaces suggests that the outside was totally unimportant.
    Secondly, the Altar Stone – a massive stone in the centre – was from Wales – an incredible feat of transportation for such a massive piece of rock at that time. Why bother?
    Thirdly, like many monuments, Stonehenge shows elements related to alignment with solar cycles. Many monuments around the world have this facet, including some burial mounds which are enclosed by earth.

    If only the interiors were smoothed out, was it meant to be the interior of and support for an enclosed structure? I have wondered that for ages.

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