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Current Archaeology Awards 2017. Rethinking Durrington Walls: a long -lost monument revealed.

The 9th annual Current Archaeology Awards celebrate the projects and publications that made the pages of CA this year, and the people judged to have made outstanding contributions to archaeology. Research Project of the Year category includes;

Rethinking Durrington Walls: a long-lost monument revealed

 (CA 320 – Stonehenge Riverside Project / Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project / National Trust)

Ongoing research at Durrington Walls has revealed a massive and previously unknown palisaded enclosure beneath the banks of the famous Neolithic henge. It is a discovery that is set to rewrite the site’s history.

To cast your vote, click here!

Voting closes 6 February 2017

Durrington Walls, two miles from Stonehenge, is named after the Neolithic henge that calls the location home. But with ongoing research revealing a massive and previously unknown monument hidden beneath its banks, the site’s history is set to be rewritten. Carly Hilts spoke to Vince Gaffney, Mike Parker Pearson, and Nick Snashall to find out more.

monument-landscape-1

Looking towards Durrington Walls henge, over the concentric rings of posts that mark Woodhenge. Ongoing research has revealed huge post holes (inset) belonging to another wooden monument hidden beneath the prehistoric bank.

Around 4,500 years ago, hundreds of people gathered two miles from Stonehenge to build another massive monument, at a location known to us as Durrington Walls. The spot they had selected lay within sight of the celebrated stones, and had previously been home to a village that may have housed the community that erected them (CA 208). But now the short-lived settlement lay abandoned, and – perhaps motivated by a desire to commemorate its presence – the new group of builders punched through the living surfaces and midden material of their predecessors to complete their work.

Their efforts were not focused on raising the imposing earthworks of the henge that gives the site its modern name, however. Instead, their labour created a previously unknown earlier phase whose full extent is only now being revealed by ongoing research: as many as 300 huge wooden posts, evenly spaced 5m apart in a ring almost 450m across. It would have been an arresting sight, yet within a maximum of 50 years the monument had been decommissioned once more, its posts removed and their sockets filled in, before being covered over by the henge that we see today. All trace of the post circle would lie hidden beneath the banks of its successor for millennia – until it was brought to light once more by a series of excavations and the largest geophysical survey of its kind. Why did the site undergo such a sudden change in design, and what can we learn about the rise and fall of a long-lost monument? As analysis continues, intriguing clues are beginning to emerge.~
Full story here

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Stonehenge “transforms our understanding” of prehistoric Wiltshire.

THE history of the Stonehenge landscape could be rewritten completely after a new discovery by archaeologists.

Remains of a huge ceremonial gathering place were found near Larkhill, dating back to 3650 BC – about 700 years before Stonehenge was built.

vessel

The remains, which were discovered during archaeological excavations ahead of construction of new services accommodation, are of a Neolithic enclosure, a major ceremonial gathering place measuring about 200m in diameter.

So far pottery, worked flint, animal bones and human skull fragments have been found in the ditches surrounding the enclosure, which would likely have been used for temporary settlement, exchanging animals and other goods or for feasting and other ritual activities, including the disposal of the dead.

Dr Matt Leivers of Wessex Archaeology said: “This is an exciting new find, and one that transforms our understanding of this important monumental landscape.”

The majority of the site lies within the Larkhill Garrison, where it will remain unaffected by the current works.

Only about 70 enclosures of this type are known across the UK, and they’re thought to be some of the earliest built structures in the British landscape.

Nearby, at Bulford, archaeologists have found a unique double henge, the only known example in Britain, which dates back to around 2900 BC.

Martin Brown, the principal archaeologist for WYG, who are managing and directing the archaeological work on both site, said: “These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular.

“The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit: they were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world.

“It is an enormous privilege to hold their tools and investigate their lives.”

Article by Rebecca Hudson.  Salisbury Journal

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