A" henge" describes any British circular ritual site dating from 3,000 - 2,000 B.C.
"The idea of finding something
as significant and dramatic as
this monument, so close to
Stonehenge, is just brilliant,"
said archaeologist Henry Chapman. "It will completely change
the way we think about
Stonehenge and the surrounding
A team of archaeologists found the new henge by using sensors that show a high-definition 3-D view of what's under the ground. The monument was composed of six rings of wooden posts enclosed by an earthen embankment.
time you excavate, you damage
the site by moving material,"
Chapman says. "With the
technology we use, such as
there's no need to dig."
The scientists discovered a circle of 24 post holes underground, less than 3,000 feet from Stonehenge. The ring measured about 82 feet in diameter -- 17 feet less than Stonehenge. It was enclosed by an inner ditch and possibly an outer bank.
"The post holes are up to a meter in diameter, which suggests that the timbers they'd have held would have been at least 10 feet high," Chapman says.
Chapman believes it was built about 4,500 years ago, near the time that Stonehenge's world-famous trilithons were erected.
are prehistoric structures with
two upright stone blocks that
support a third which lies
across the top.
The newly discovered monument mirrors a nearby henge uncovered in 1937. That circle overlooks the ancient stone structure and has two entrances. All three henges appear to have been deliberately aligned.
"... what we're seeing is that Stonehenge, when it entered its very grand phrase, wasn't the only structure in the area," Chapman said. "It was surrounded by other complex structures, that may have been used much like medieval cathedrals." So instead of being the focus of all the ancient folks' attention, Stonehenge was likely just one ... part of the religious landscape.
ancient Britons didn't
record their thoughts, the
latest discovery offers insighst
into their beliefs. Chapman suggests "wood and
stone" may be connected as "symbolic meanings" for
ancient Brits. Another
archaeologist, Mike Parker
Pearson, is a henge expert. He
wooden structures may have be
related to feasts for
the living, while the stone circles
were realms of the dead.
About 5 square miles of land around Stonehenge will be scanned by 2014. That information will be provided in a detailed map.
"I think in the next four years, we're going to have quite a different understanding of Stonehenge," Chapman says. "We're going to fill in the detail between the standing monuments, and hopefully by doing that, show the complexities and subtleties of the Neolithic people who were here."