Originally posted on Stonehenge News and Information:
Immediately to the north of Woodhenge and spanning the A345 road is the largest henge monument in Britain – a massive banked and ditched enclosure over 400m across and nearly 1.5km in circumference. Long recognised on old maps as an ancient British Village, Durrington Walls’ true importance only…
I saw it once by moonlight. Returning on the Marlborough Road in the dark, surrounded by silver-washed, gently curving chalkland. Then dreaming..forgetting…and a little before the Avebury turning… it reared up from the right, huge and impossible. Surely too big to be made, a conical flat-topped mass. A passing Neolithic shock.
I remembered 1968, my mum calling me to the TV. Live archaeology and Professor Atkinson driving his tunnel to the centre. I had no idea what Silbury was then. I never saw it until I was 18.
Then in the 90s, after moving to Wiltshire, sitting in Devizes Museum at the WAC meeting. At the end, we drank coffee and two people said: ‘yes, we were there with Atkinson.We walked with him to the centre’. Wow! What a thing!
The National Trust have never owned Silbury but have managed it as part if their Avebury Estate.
In May 2000…
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A chance to meet Stonehenge ancestors. Neolithic long barrow burial mound discovered between Stonehenge and Avebury.
A “house of the dead” dating from more than 5,000 years ago could contain the remains of the ancestors of people who lived around Stonehenge, archaeologists have said.
A Neolithic long barrow burial mound in a place known as Cat’s Brain, in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, is being excavated by experts and students from the University of Reading in the first full investigation of such a monument in the county for 50 years.
The barrow, which is in the middle of a farmer’s field halfway between the important monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge, was spotted by aerial photography and assessed by geophysical survey imagery.
It consists of two ditches flanking what may be a central building covered with a mound made of the earth…
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An ancient “square stone circle” has been discovered under the Neolithic stones at Avebury in Wiltshire.
The “surprising find”, which is 30m (98ft) wide, was made by archaeologists from Leicester and Southampton University.
The square of megaliths also appears to have been erected around the remains of a Neolithic house, which sat at the centre of the colossal stone circle.
It is thought to be one of the site’s earliest structures.
The discovery of previously unknown megaliths inside the monument has been greeted as a “great surprise”.
Read the full story on the BBC website
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Carbon dating shows that the site dates back to 3300 B.C.
Sonehenge, the iconic Neolithic site in Wiltshire, England, has intrigued researchers for generations. In recent decades, however, archaeologists have found that Stonehenge isn’t the only ancient megastructure in that area—in fact there are a lot, including Woodhenge, the Southern Circle and Durrington Walls’ recently discovered “super-henge”. Now, new research is putting the spotlight on another monument: an ancient structure consisting of two giant wooden circles, located 23 miles away in Avebury, which predates Stonehenge by 800 years, reports the BBC.
Researchers used bits of charcoal collected from the site 30 years ago to carbon date the structure to 3,300 B.C. Tia Ghose at LiveScience reports that researchers are not certain exactly what the circles were used for, but they were palisades constructed of thousands of logs that were purposely burnt down, perhaps in some sort of fire ritual. The research appears in the magazine British Archaeology.
“The date of 3300 B.C. puts the palisades in a completely different context; it’s the end of the early neolithic, when there’s a blank in our knowledge of the big monuments of the time,” Alex Bayliss, an archaeologist with Historic England, tells Simon de Bruxelles at The Times. “We have an entirely new kind of monument that is like nothing else ever found in Britain.”
Ghose reports that the site was originally found sometime in the 1960s or 1970s when a pipeline was laid in the area. It wasn’t until the late 1980s, though, the area was partially excavated. Researchers found the charred remains of the two circles, one of which was 820 feet in diameter. In total, the enclosures were made of over 4,000 trees and stretched an incredible 2.5 miles. Bayliss says it’s possible that one of the circles was for men and one for women during the fire ritual.
Constructing the monuments was no easy undertaking. The builders would have dug massive trenches, fitting oak posts into holes in the bottom. Then they would have then refilled the trenches to make the palisade.
Ghose reports that during the first excavation, researchers dated a shard of pottery to the time Stonehenge was constructed. Other finds in the area also indicated that it was in use during that time. But advances in carbon dating led to the new findings.
Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, tells de Bruxelles that the new date is sure to stir up debate. “Having this massive palisade structure, not just at Avebury but even in southern England, at 3300 B.C. is completely unexpected,” he says. “The dates are so surprising some archaeologists are going to question it.”
Ghose reports that animal bones, pottery and remains of housing show that people occupied the site and nearby areas for centuries after burning the great circles, which is consistent with historical patterns in England during those times.
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Originally posted on Stonehenge News and Information:
A Bronze Age ‘beaker culture’ invaded Britain 4,000 years ago: Intruders forced out ancient farmers that built famous relics such as Stonehenge
- New research carried out one of the biggest ever studies of ancient genomes
- It found that beaker people forced prehistoric Neolithic farmers out of Britain
- DNA analyses found that Britain underwent a 90 per cent shift in its genetic make-up when the beaker folk arrived
One of the biggest ever studies of ancient genomes has found that a Bronze Age ‘beaker culture’ invaded Britain around 4,000 years ago.
The immigrant group, named after the famous bell-shaped pots they carried, likely forced out native Neolithic farmers.
These ancient British farmers were famed for leaving behind massive rock relics, including Stonehenge.
THE BEAKER CULTURE MYSTERY
Beaker folk lived about 4,500 years ago in the temperate zones of Europe.
They received their name from their distinctive bell-shaped beakers, decorated in horizontal zones by finely toothed stamps.
The decorated pots are almost ubiquitous across Europe, and could have been used as drinking vessels or ceremonious urns.
Believed to be originally from Spain, the Beaker folk soon spread into central and western Europe in their search for metals.
But the sheer variety of beaker artefacts across Europe has made the pottery difficult to define as coming from one distinctive culture.
The new study suggests the beaker culture did not always pass from a single migrating entity.
DNA samples from beaker folk in Iberia and Central Europe were found to be genetically distinct.
To me, that’s definitely surprising,’ Dr Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study, told Nature News.
‘The people who built Stonehenge probably didn’t contribute any ancestry to later people, or if they did, it was very little.’
Around 4,500 years ago bell-shaped pottery became popular across much of prehistoric Europe.
The Bronze Age trend has been debated by archaeologists for over a century.
Some argue that it was simply a fashion trend shared by several distinct cultural groups.
But other suggest that an immense migration of ‘beaker folk’ spread across the continent.
The new ancient genome research suggests that both theories are true.
The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, analysed the DNA of 170 ancient Europeans.
They compared this DNA to the genomes of hundreds of other modern and prehistoric Europeans.
Ancient skeletons found in the Iberian peninsula were found to share little genetic connection with bones found in central Europe.
By HARRY PETTIT FOR MAILONLINE
Read the full story n the Daily Mail online
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Last week, the Living with Monuments team started test pitting* in Avebury, in fields to the north west and the south west of Avebury Henge, in order to gather information about what the landscape might have looked like in the past and how it has been transformed over the millennia.
Archaeologists from the National Trust and the University of Leicester test pitting in the shadow of Silbury Hill ©Mike Robinson
Before the work began, it was assumed that the test pits would essentially show the same thing; however, what they showed instead was how diverse and different the landscape was in the past.
Archaeologist, Mike, from the University of Southampton recording one of the southern test pits ©Mike Robinson
Previous understanding of past landscapes in Avebury was based upon John Evans’ work in the 1980s, which has been taken as the general model for the area, but we are now realising that it’s much…
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