Sunday 25 September 2016

Ritual monument found beneath 'superhenge'

Sarah Knapton London

Published 08/09/2015 | 02:30

An artist’s impression issued by the British Science Association showing how the Durrington Walls monoliths might have looked more than 4,500 years ago
An artist’s impression issued by the British Science Association showing how the Durrington Walls monoliths might have looked more than 4,500 years ago

A huge ritual monument which dates from the time of Stonehenge has been discovered hidden under a nearby Stone Age enclosure.

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Durrington Walls, a roundish 'superhenge', has long puzzled archaeologists because one side is straight, while the rest of the structure is curved.

Now ground penetrating radar has found that the straight edge is actually aligned over a row of 90 massive standing stones, which once stood 15ft high, and formed a C-shaped arena which has not been seen for thousands of years.

The stone line is likely to have marked a ritual procession route, and is thought to date from the same time as the sarsen circle at Stonehenge.

"It's utterly remarkable," said Professor Vince Gaffney, of the University of Bradford.

"It's just enormous. It is definitely one of the largest stone monuments in Europe and is completely unique. We've never seen anything like this in the world.

"We can't tell what the stones are made of, but they are the same height as the sarsens in Stonehenge, so they may be the same kind.

"It was probably for a ritual of some sort, or it could have marked out an arena. These monuments were very theatrical. This a design to impress and empower."

Durrington Walls, which sits not far from the River Avon, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, is one of the largest known henge monuments, measuring around 1,640 feet in diameter,

It was built around 4,500 years ago.

Irish Independent

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