06 Feb 2016

Stonehenge in the News

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StonehengeHall

Ancient Origins:

Architect presents radical new theory that Stonehenge was a two-storey, wooden feasting and performance hall

Could the prehistoric Stonehenge megaliths once have been the support for a wooden, two-storey roundhouse, a venue for feasting, speakers and musicians? That’s the theory of an English landscape architect who designed a small model of what she has in mind and is looking for money to build a 1:10 scale model of the structure.

Sarah Ewbank says the fact she is not an archaeologist has freed her from preconceived notions and allowed her to approach the matter in a fresh way.

Ms Ewbank told Ancient Origins via email about her vision of Stonehenge:

    “I believe Stonehenge was a Bronze-age venue, a large oval hall encircled and overlooked by galleries. Interestingly the upper level was tiered, the height of different sections reflecting the different height trilithons. Consider both hall and galleries filled, listening to a speaker, or maybe there was feasting on the galleries with dancing below, perhaps crowds gathered to listen to singing or musicians playing, or maybe ceremonies took place to welcome in the solstices. It all sounds rather splendid and certainly needed – there were no electronic gadgets then!

    My view – such a splendid building deserved to be used often – so, much as the Albert Hall in London serves to accommodate every type of gathering, so I believe our Bronze-age ancestors used Stonehenge whenever such a venue was required. Our bronze-age ancestors were intelligent people with needs similar to ours today. Forget the furry loin cloth and ritual sacrifice stuff – it’s wrong.”

She said she’s discussed her theories with other experts. Some of them agree with her interpretation of the building’s use, but others strongly disagree and argue for the traditional view.

Ms. Ewbank speculates that the sides of the house were made of oak and the roof of thatching. Of course, it is highly unlikely wood or straw would survive the thousands of years of Stonehenge’s existence, so finding physical evidence for her theory—other than the layout of the stones themselves—is next to impossible.

Whole thing.

Roofed Stonehenge website

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Discovery News reports the finding of burials of “high status women.”

The remains of 14 women believed to be of high status and importance have been found at Stonehenge, the iconic prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England.

The discovery, along with other finds, supports the theory that Stonehenge functioned, at least for part of its long history, as a cremation cemetery for leaders and other noteworthy individuals, according to a report published in the latest issue of British Archaeology.

During the recent excavation, more women than men were found buried at Stonehenge, a fact that could change its present image.

“In almost every depiction of Stonehenge by artists and TV re-enactors we see lots of men, a man in charge, and few or no women,” archaeologist Mike Pitts, who is the editor of British Archaeology and the author of the book “Hengeworld,” told Discovery News.

“The archaeology now shows that as far as the burials go, women were as prominent there as men. This contrasts with the earlier burial mounds, where men seem to be more prominent.”

Pitts added, “By definition — cemeteries are rare, Stonehenge exceptional — anyone buried at Stonehenge is likely to have been special in some way: high status families, possessors of special skills or knowledge, ritual or political leaders.”

The recent excavation focused on what is known as Aubrey Hole 7, one of 56 chalk pits dug just outside of the stone circle and dating to the earliest phases of Stonehenge in the late fourth and early third millennium B.C.

Christie Willis of the University College London Institute of Archaeology worked on the project and confirmed that the remains of at least 14 females and nine males — all young adults or older — were found at the site. A barrage of high tech analysis techniques, such as CT scanning, was needed to study the remains, given that the individuals had been cremated.

Radiocarbon dating and other analysis of all known burials at Stonehenge reveal that they took place in several episodes from about 3100 B.C. to at least 2140 B.C.

Complete story.

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