Research part of project investigating newly discovered prehistoric shafts near Stonehenge

A previously unrecorded Neolithic monument has been discovered at the ancient settlement of Durrington Walls near Stonehenge.

A massive 2km-wide ring of prehistoric ‘shafts’ up to 10m across and 5m deep has been discovered around the ‘super henge’ at Durrington Walls and the famous site at Woodhenge. The structures have been carbon dated to about 2500BC.

Archaeologists believe the circle of shaft marks a boundary around the massive henge at Durrington. It is thought the features, along with an internal post line, could have guided people towards the religious sites and warned others not to cross the boundary.

Researchers have identified up to 20 shafts but estimate there may have been more than 30 originally.

Professor Robin Allaby from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick is one of the team of researchers involved in the Hidden Landscapes project. His lab will be analysing soil samples from the ancient groundworks.

He said “We’re tremendously excited at the prospect of applying ancient sedimentary DNA technology to these mysterious structures to discover their purpose in ancient Britain.”

Research on the pits at Durrington was undertaken by a consortium of archaeologists as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project. The project is led by the University of Bradford, with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham, St Andrews, the University of Wales Trinity Saint Davids, and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (University of Glasgow).

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