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Less than two miles away from Stonehenge, a team of archaeologists have discovered an unprecedented series of twenty prehistoric wells. After becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the Neolithic site is now the subject of research by different experts, who are eager to discover its meaning and function as well as investigate the surrounding area.

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Thanks to the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, the University of Bradford's research team has been able to take advantage of recent drilling technology to conduct archeological surveys in the terrain surrounding the site. The analysis showed that the twenty wells - of which there were originally thirty - were probably built by the local civilizations. As in the case of the nearby and very famous site of Stonehenge, they formed a circle: in this case with an impressive diameter of 1.2 miles.

 

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape team taking a Vibracore sample from one of the pits. Photo courtesy of Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes.  

 

The radiocarbon sediment dating of the area surrounding the wells indicate they were built circa 2500 BC, thus situating the wells in a similar time period to Stonehenge, whose construction was thought to have begun around 3100 BC and ended around 1600 BC. Due to its association with the famous stone circle, and the impossibility of defining its functionality with any certainty, the site took the name Holehenge. Its large dimensions, marked by wells of about 5 meters deep and 10 wide, have therefore made Holehenge the largest Neolithic site in the United Kingdom. The discovery, disclosed recently by Internet Archeology magazine, has thus increased interest in the area, as well as curiosity towards Neolithic civilizations and their cosmological beliefs.

 

The distance between the pits and Durrington Walls varies slightly. Image courtesy of EDINA Digimap Ordnance Survey Service.  

 

“The area around Stonehenge is amongst the most studied archaeological landscapes on earth and it is remarkable that the application of new technology can still lead to the discovery of such a massive prehistoric structure which, currently, is significantly larger than any comparative prehistoric monument that we know of in Britain, at least,” said Vince Gaffney, chair of the university’s School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences in the Faculty of Life Sciences, in a statement. Partners of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project include the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in cooperation with the Universities of Birmingham, St Andrews, Warwick, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (University of Glasgow). Work at Durrington was facilitated by the National Trust and supported by the University of Bradford Research Development Fund.

Read more on the dossier Internet Archaeology

Cover image: Stonehenge. Photo by Francesco Bandarin ©UNESCO. 

Written by Elisabetta Rastelli

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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