13 kilometres north of Salisbury in Wiltshire, England, lies Stonehenge.
It’s an ancient monument that was clearly of great significance to the people who erected it.
Unfortunately, we don’t know what that significance was, nor do we know much about the Neolithic people who built it. Thanks to a new discovery of a circle of deep shafts near the structure, we do know that these people were quite sophisticated, and that the structure is actually far larger than was initially believed.
The society responsible for it went through a great deal of trouble to put it up. It required planning, organisation, cooperation, manpower and, of course, very large rocks.
And, no, it was not constructed by aliens, but if believing that injects a little magic into your life, by all means, continue.
This has been a good year for archaeologists studying the ancient stone circle. The discovery of the shafts mentioned earlier laid the groundwork for understanding the society that used Stonehenge. For one thing, we know that they may have been mathematically adept.
Now researchers believe they may have solved the mystery of where the rocks used to make it came from, according to The Guardian.
Groundbreaking scientific research published on Wednesday reveals that, 4,500 years ago, this spot – and in particular those hulking sandstone boulders – drew the ancient architects of Stonehenge.
The research, made possible after a piece of one of the stones taken away as a souvenir 60 years ago was recovered, concludes that 50 of the 52 sarsen stones at Stonehenge were probably sourced from West Woods, on the edge of modern-day Marlborough.
This is significant because it proposes possible routes that the Stonehenge architects used to transport the sarsens to their final destination.
We still don’t know how they managed to get them there, but that’s research for another time.
Future research will try to pinpoint the specific sarsen extraction pits in the woods, which could yield more discoveries about the people who built Stonehenge.
David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton, who led the research, said the hairs on the back of his neck stood up when he considered the notion of ancient builders working on the spot and the huge effort it took to source the stones and transport them.
“This was a big, concerted, deliberate act,” he said. “It must have been a real undertaking. That brought home to me the scale and focus that was required.”
The smaller bluestones on the structure have been traced back to the Preseli Hills in Wales, almost 320km away.
A breakthrough came after a tube-shaped sample of one of the Stonehenge megaliths taken by a man who worked on a restoration project in 1958 was handed back last year.
Nash and his team were allowed to use “destructive” techniques on chips from the sample to create a geochemical “fingerprint” of the monument’s sarsen stones.
20 sites were then studied across southern England until they made a match.
“We weren’t really setting out to find the source of Stonehenge,” he said. “We picked 20 areas and our goal was to try to eliminate them, to find ones that didn’t match. We didn’t think we’d get a direct match. It was a real ‘Oh my goodness’ moment.”
The researchers believe that the motivating factor behind the selection of the stones was size. The builders wanted the biggest rocks they could find.
Now to solve the mystery of how they moved them.
[imagesource: Twitter / @NicoleGraham031] I've heard some very average nicknames in my ...
[imagesource: When last did you drink rum? We're not talking about the stuff associa...
[imagesource: Instagram / @mrbeast] When Jimmy Donaldson left school, he wrote in his s...
[imagesource: Twitter / @jaredwright17] The problem with a Saturday morning Springbok k...
[imagesource: Gordon & MacPhail] For a cool $120 000 (around R1,8 million) you can ...