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Archaeologists who have been undertaking excavation work in the surrounding area of Stonehenge have claimed to have solved the mystery as to why the large circle of standing stones was constructed in the position it is in. However, it seems rather premature to be popping open the champagne bottles just yet as the evidence is far from conclusive.
The team of scientists working in Amesbury, a short distance from where the landmarks sits on a hillside, believe the discovery of a ‘warm’ water spring provides all the answers they were looking for. It is claimed that Ice Age man was drawn to the nearby pools which never froze over and settled in the area to have access to the water.
The pools are fed by a spring which keeps the water at a constant 11 degrees, even in winter. Scientists visited the area in minus ten degree temperatures and found that the pools had not frozen over.
“The belief has always been that Stonehenge would not have been built here without there being something special about the area, said Andy Rhind-Tutt, chairman of the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust. “We believe the answer lies in the springs which feed the River Avon.”
The reason for Stonehenge’s location has remained one of the great unsolved mysteries of British prehistory, with no one theory accepted as correct. While the latest finding is interesting, it certainly appears too superficial to explain all the other evidence relating to Stonehenge’s location – were the warm springs a big enough motivation for Mesolithic settlers to drag megalithic blocks over 240 kilometres? Is the fact that it sits perfectly on a solstice axis now considered insignificant?
Hopefully scientists don’t believe this research is enough to close the file on the mysteries of Stonehenge.
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Archaeologists have started a new excavation of Amesbury in an attempt to uncover some of the mysteries of Stonehenge. Amesbury is located in southern Wiltshire, England, and in recent years has revealed some incredible archaeological discoveries, including numerous monuments and artefacts dating back to the Mesolithic era. The major dig due to start soon could help to explain why Stonehenge was built where it was.
Excavations since 2005 have indicated that Amesbury and the surrounding area has been settled for around 10,000 years, much earlier than previous thought. Findings have included large scale prehistoric structures and settlements and numerous monuments around Stonehenge.
The last significant finding occurred at a site called Vespasian’s Camp, approximately 1 mile from Stonehenge, which showed traces of human settlement 3,000 years before nearby Stonehenge was apparently built. David Jacques, a researcher who has directed eleven small excavations between 2005 and 2012, has described the site as “potentially one of the pivotal places in the history of the Stonehenge landscape.”
New excavations will be seeking to establish Amesbury as the oldest continuous settlement in the UK. At the moment, neighbouring region, Thatcham, has evidence for the oldest settlement with well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic settlement dating back to 7,700 BC. In Amesbury, evidence of settlement has been found dating back to 7,596 BC, but archaeologists have not yet reached the bottom section of the trench where previous digs took place, indicating that much older evidence may be found beneath. The team is hoping to find evidence of settlement going back to 10,000 BC.
But the dig is about much more than establishing the oldest date of settlement. The team or archaeologists believe that findings may help to explain why Stonehenge is where it is.
“No-one would have built Stonehenge without there being something really special about the area, said Andy Rhind-Tutt from Amesbury Museum.” There must have been something there beforehand and Amesbury may well be it – [it could be] one of the greatest Mesolithic sites in the country.”
The dig will finish on 25th October and findings from the excavation will be reported then.
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