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Archaeologists are discovering a probable source of Stonehenge sarsen stones



For centuries, the source of the huge Stonehenge sarsene stones has been an open secret.

Archaeologists and historians have long debated where the huge Sarsen stones that were used to create the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, may have come from.

On Wednesday, scientists announced a groundbreaking discovery that placed the probable origin of sarsen stones in West Woods, a wooded area just 9 miles (15 km) from Stonehenge, near Marlborough.
“MYSTERY SOLVED!” Tweeted English Heritage, who takes care of the site and contributed to the study. “FINALLY (almost certainly …) we know where the huge Sarsen Stonehenge stones come from!”
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The monument of a stone circle built by the Neolithic is mostly made of two types of stone. There are smaller plates known as bluestones, which are known to come from the Preseli Mountains in southwest Wales.

The larger standing stones, known as megaliths, are made of sarzene, a local sandstone. They weigh up to 30 tons and are up to 7 meters high (almost 23 feet) and form all fifteen stones of the central horseshoe Stonehenge. Experts have long suspected that the stones may have come from Marlborough Downs, a group of hills north of the monument – but the truth was “impossible to identify,” said an English heritage report caring for the site.
That all changed last year when the missing piece of stones returned. The sarsen stone core was removed in 1958 and maintained by an excavator who requested its return to the memorial on the eve of his 90th birthday.

“When Robert (the employee) decided to return the core last year, experts began assembling the puzzle,” English Heritage tweeted.

The missing piece of Stonehenge returned after 60 years helped unlock the secrets of the stones.

The missing piece of Stonehenge returned after 60 years helped unlock the secrets of the stones. Credit: English heritage

The team, funded by the British Academy, performed non-destructive testing on sarsen stones and the missing core, which showed that most have similar chemistry and come from the same area. They then analyzed the Sarsen bases across England, from Norfolk to Devon, to compare these chemical compositions with Stonehenge samples. This method is similar to a “chemical fingerprint” comparison, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.

The results finally found the best match in one place – West Woods, about 40 minutes drive from the hotel.

“It was really exciting to use 21st century science to understand the Neolithic past, and we’re finally going to answer a question that archaeologists have been discussing for centuries,” said David Nash of the University of Brighton, who led the study.

West Woods is a picturesque wooded area of ​​almost 390 hectares. It is popular for cycling and hiking trails and for spring blossom flowers.

Bells blooming in English West Woods in April 2011.

Bells blooming in English West Woods in April 2011. Credit: Matt Cardy / Getty Images Europe / Getty Images

There are still unanswered questions. For example, there are two stones that appear to come from different source areas from other Stonehenge sarsens.

“Although it could be accidental, one possibility is that their presence marks the work of various building communities that have decided to draw their materials from another part of the country,” the study said.

It is also unclear why the original Stonehenge builders chose to draw their sarsen from West Woods when there were many other areas with dense sarsen stones in the area – but the study team theorized that it could be due to the huge size of the West Wood stones.

“Now we can say that size was the overriding goal in obtaining sarens – they wanted the largest and most important stones they could find, and it was wise to get them as close as possible,” said historian Susan Greaney, one of the study’s co-authors, in a statement of English heritage. “It’s in stark contrast to the source of the dice, where something completely different was played – perhaps a sacred connection with these mountains.”

“This evidence once again shows how carefully she considered and considered building this phase of Stonehenge,” she added.

This discovery sheds light on where these Neolithic populations were founded and where they collected their materials – but it also helps to narrow the path to Stonehenge. Another long-standing secret is not just where the stones came from, but how they were transported so far to the memorial site.

“Our results further help limit the most likely route that the sari was transported to Stonehenge,” the study said. For example, scientists can now rule out previous theories that the stones traveled from the village of Avebury south or southwest to Stonehenge.

The study added that further research was needed to narrow the exact location of the stone source in West Woods and to identify “prehistoric sarsen mining pits.”

“Being able to identify the area that Stonehenge’s builders used to obtain their materials around 2500 BC is a real thrill,” Greaney said in a statement. “Now we can begin to understand the way they could travel and add another piece of the puzzle.”




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