Huge Stone Monument Found Buried Near Stonehenge

One researcher calls the find of 90 large stones 'archaeology on steroids'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2015 12:15 PM CDT

An English "super-henge" just became more super. Durrington Walls, one of the largest known henges and located less than 2 miles from Stonehenge, was believed to have been built in the Neolithic period around 4,500 years ago, and the way it aligns to the solstices like Stonehenge led scientists to believe they may have been built around the same time, per the Telegraph. But a new find underneath Durrington's grassy banks—specifically, the discovery of 90 enormous "standing stones" (30 intact and the remnants of 60 others) that may have formed the southern edge of an arena used for rituals—has scientists reworking everything they thought they knew, the Guardian notes. "What we are starting to see is the largest surviving stone monument, preserved underneath a bank, that has ever been discovered in Britain and possibly in Europe," Vince Gaffney, one of the lead archaeologists for the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project tells the paper. "This is archaeology on steroids."

Ground-piercing radar helped the scientists discover the stones, which they believe used to be erect but were pushed over when the bank was built on top of them, the Guardian notes. The hidden stones were apparently part of a C-shaped arena that faced the Avon River. "We can't tell what the stones are made of, but they are the same height as the sarsens in the Stonehenge circle, so they may be the same kind," Gaffney tells the Telegraph. "These monuments were very theatrical. This a design to impress and empower." The discovery is only the most recent find by scientists working on the Stonehenge project: Last year the remnants of 17 chapels were found, the Guardian notes. But this find is one of the hugest. "Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be rewritten," one of the project's lead historians tells the Guardian. (Scientists say Marden Henge was even more impressive than Stonehenge.)

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