British archeologists have found evidence of an ancient site related to the world-famous Stonehenge in southwest England. The discovery, called Blue Stonehenge, is located on the west bank of the River Avon, about 2.8 kilometers from Stonehenge. The discovery is called Blue Stonehenge, after the bluestones that once stood at the riverside site and now probably stand within the center of Stonehenge.
"We think we know everything about Stonehenge, it's been combed over by archeologists for centuries," said Mike Parker Pearson, professor at the University of Sheffield and director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. "And yet something as significant as this has taken this long to discover."The site was undetected because it was deeply buried near the river.
Funeral Complex Theory
The Avon site apparently had a significant relationship to Stonehenge. "We've been developing a theory, a hunch if you like, that the river was absolutely central for Stonehenge, and the people who used Stonehenge," said Pearson. "We've been looking at the idea that in fact that Stonehenge was just one-half of a much larger complex, linked by the River Avon with a timber settlement upstream that in turn was linked to the river by an avenue that we found back in 2005."
Archeologists believe that Stonehenge could be part of a funeral complex. They speculate that bodies were transported on the river to the newly discovered site, Blue Stonehenge, cremated there, and then buried at Stonehenge.
Another interesting component is the bluestones themselves. "They are a very unusual type of rock, it's not just one particular type, it's a series of them, but the interesting factor is that they come from Wales," said Parker Pearson.
Scientists believe the stones were dragged to the site from Welsh mountains about 240 kilometers away, a vast distance at that time. "One of the theories is that these stones were used as legitimators for people moving into new areas, into the Stonehenge area at the beginning of farming in Britain, just after 4000 B.C.," said Parker Pearson. "And that's a theory that we're looking at as whether these were actually the symbols of ancestorhood and belonging to the land."
Further tests will be conducted through radiocarbon dating to determine a construction timeline.