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Wiltshire



Wiltshire

‘New Stonehenge’ at Durrington Walls ‘had no standing stones’

  • 12 August 2016
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Durrington Walls dig

Image copyright
Nicola Snashall/National Trust

Image caption

A dig at Durrington Walls has shown there were no standing stones at the site

A 4,500-year-old monument experts thought was “another Stonehenge” is now understood to have not contained any standing stones at all.

Archaeologists digging at Durrington Walls – about two miles from Stonehenge – said they now believed the Neolithic site was surrounded by timber posts.

Last year they said a survey showed evidence of “a Superhenge” of more than 100 buried stones at the site.

But no evidence of stones was found during an excavation.

Pits that contained wooden posts have been found.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has been surveying an area covering 16 sq km near Stonehenge for the past six years using geophysical survey techniques.

Image copyright
Nicola Snashall/National Trust

Image caption

Archaeologists said they now believed huge timber posts were used in the monument

National Trust archaeologist Dr Nicola Snashall said ground penetrating radar had revealed “anomalies” that were originally believed to be buried stones.

“The response from the radar was so good that the team thought they were dealing with a whole series of stones lying on their side, buried beneath the bank of this ancient earthwork.”

Two of the features have now been excavated, and the stones theory has been disproved.

“What we’ve discovered are that there are two enormous pits for timber posts. They have got ramps at the sides to lower posts into.

Image copyright
Nicola Snashall/National Trust

Image caption

The area near Stonehenge has been surveyed for the past six years

“They did contain timbers which have been vertically lifted out and removed at some stage.

“The top was then filled in with chalk rubble and then the giant henge bank was raised over the top.”

Dr Snashall said it was thought the giant timber monument was was put up immediately after a settlement on the site, that belonged to the builders of Stonehenge, went out of use.

“For some strange reason they took the timbers out and put up the enormous bank and ditch that we see today.”

The Durrington Walls monument, which is about 480m (1,500 ft) across, is just under two miles (3km) from the famous Stonehenge site in Wiltshire.

Image copyright
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute

Image caption

Archaeologists originally said they thought there were more than 100 standing stones at the site (artist’s impression)

Image copyright
John Miller/National Trust

Image caption

Durrington Walls is just under two miles from Stonehenge

Related Topics

  • Archaeology
  • Durrington
  • Stonehenge

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More on this story

  • Stonehenge researchers ‘may have found largest Neolithic site’
    7 September 2015

  • Video

    Hidden complex of monuments found at Stonehenge site

    10 September 2014

  • Stonehenge secrets revealed by underground map
    10 September 2014

Related Internet links

  • Durrington Walls – National Trust

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Durrington Walls’ standing stones: a visitor’s guide to the newest Stonehenge site





Durrington Walls' standing stones: a visitor's guide to the newest Stonehenge site
Phase1-3_02


Why go

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a massive stone monument buried under the bank of a stone-age enclosure known as Durrington Walls, just two miles from Stonehenge.

Using powerful ground-penetrating radar, investigators from Birmingham and Bradford universities, alongside an international team of experts, have uncovered a 330m-long line of more than 50 massive stones, buried under part of the bank of Britain’s largest pre-historic henge.

Professor Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist on the project, said that the discovery has significant implications for our understanding of Stonehenge and its landscape setting.

“Not only does this new evidence demonstrate a completely unexpected phase of monumental architecture at one of the greatest ceremonial sites in prehistoric Europe, the new stone row could well be contemporary with the famous Stonehenge sarsen circle or even earlier,” he said.

An artists impression showing a row of stonesA new line of stones has been found under Durrington Walls super-henge

What is it

Gaffney said that the stones are thought to have been erected more than 4,500 years ago to form a dramatic ritual arena. The monuments were grand, built to give the impression of authority to the living and the dead.

However, as the megaliths are buried underground, visitors to the area will not be able to see them for themselves.

Yet you can still get a great sense of their majesty if you use a bit of imagination, and Durrington Walls, the village where Stonehenge’s builders lived, is itself an interesting site.

The henge at Durrington Walls has long mystified archaeologists because one side is straight while the rest of it is curved. It surrounds several smaller enclosures and timber circles, and is connected to a newly excavated later Neolithic settlement. Thousands of people travelled great distances to gather here and feast on roast pork and apples in midwinter. The area outside the ditch and bank was once a settlement, possibly housing hundreds of homes, making Durrington Walls the biggest village in north-west Europe at the time.

Durrington The earliest phase of Durrington Walls with its line of megaliths

How to see the site on a guided walk

The National Trust is hosting a Discover Durrington Walls event on October 10. On this 3-mile walk, you’ll explore the secrets of Durrington Walls – once home to the builders of Stonehenge – and discover 6,000 years of hidden history with National Trust’s landscape guides.

To book: Call the estate office on 01980 664780 or email [email protected]

How to see the site on an independent walk

Download a National Trust map for one of the following routes and explore for yourself.

1. Ramble around on a Durrington Walls and Landscape walk and explore the connection between two of the most important henge enclosures in the country in a less-known part of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. To view the route: nationaltrust.org.uk/wra-1356324449264/view-page/item463554/

2. Go on a Durrington Walls to Stonehenge walk and discover the landscape in its full glory from the Bronze Age barrow First World War military railway track, as well as its diverse wildlife and plants. To view the route: nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/things-to-see-and-do/view-page/item937063/

Local facilities

– Picnic area (not NT) and information panel at Woodhenge car park

– WCs

– Outdoor café

– Picnic area (not NT) at Stonehenge car park, 0.75 miles from this walking route.

How to get there

Bike: National Cycle Network route 45 runs south-east of the property. See sustrans.org.uk

Bus: Wilts & Dorset 5 or 6, between Salisbury, Pewsey, Marlborough and Swindon. Service 16 from Amesbury, request stop at Woodhenge

Rail: Salisbury station, 9 miles from Woodhenge car park

Road: Woodhenge car park is 1¾ miles north of Amesbury, follow signs from A345

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