Austrians help unearth new Stonehenge finds

Austrians help unearth new Stonehenge finds
Photo: Paul Gillingwater
In a joint venture between Austria's Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, and Britain's Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, scientists have used new techniques to identify 15 previously unknown neolithic monuments which remain underground.

In a report released by the Smithsonian Institute, archaeologist Vince Gaffney and his team have revealed the fruits of their four year collaboration with the Austrian Institute, producing the first detailed underground survey of the landscape surrounding Stonehenge, totalling four square miles.

Researchers have found buried evidence of more than 15 previously unknown monuments, including henges, barrows, segmented ditches and pits.

According to Gaffney, these findings suggest a scale of activity around Stonehenge far beyond what was previously suspected.

“There was sort of this idea that Stonehenge sat in the middle and around it was effectively an area where people were probably excluded,” Gaffney said, “a ring of the dead around a special area – to which few people might ever have been admitted."

"Perhaps there were priests, big men, whatever they were, inside Stonehenge having processions up the Avenue, doing… something extremely mysterious. Of course that sort of analysis depends on not knowing what’s actually in the area around Stonehenge itself. It was terra incognita, really.”

Gaffney's new map of the area around Stonehenge.  Photo: David Preiss

The findings will be presented on September 9th at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, England.

Similar excavations, although not as spectacular, have been found in Austria.


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