Some Stonehenge secrets were uncovered using digital mapping technology, suggesting that the iconic monument was once accompanied by 17 neighboring shrines.
The shrines were included on the most detailed map ever of the earth under Stonehenge and its surroundings. BBC notes that the archaeologists combined different instruments to scan the area to a depth of three meters.
More detailed analysis of the data will likely produce a brand new account of how the monument’s landscape evolved over time. Among the surprises already discovered are traces of up to 60 huge stones or pillars that formed a portion of the “super henge” previously identified at Durrington Walls.
Most of the land around Stonehenge hadn’t been surveyed in this manner before, but Professor Vincent Gaffney from the University of Birmingham and his team worked to create a three-dimensional map of an area that covers 12 square kilometers.
Prof. Gaffney stated of the information, “For the past four years we have been looking at this amazing monument to try and see what was around it. What was within its landscape?” He added that while some questions have been answered, others still remain.
The scans do show the answers to some Stonehenge secrets have been uncovered, such as, “Was it really an excluded place, where only special people would come?” Gaffney and his team believe this answer is, “No.”
CNet notes that other new finds include prehistoric pits, some of which appear to form astronomic alignments. Also uncovered were dozens of burial mounds, and homes from the Bronze and Iron Ages. One burial mound dates to before Stonehenge’s construction and included a wooden building likely used for interring the dead after ritual exposure and the removal of flesh from the body.
The survey used mostly non-invasive methods to explore the area around Stonehenge. Aerial photography, laser scanning, and airborne imaging spectroscopy were used by the team to observe anomalies and variations in the surface, create topographical models, and gauge the composition of above-ground elements.
The team then delved underground with magnetic prospection, which can help with mapping archaeological structures; ground penetrating radar, which gave them detailed, 3D information about the shape, depth, and location of subterranean structures; and electromagnetic induction, which allows for non-invasive mapping of proportions of buried objects.
Gaffney stated of the finds:
“This project has revealed that the area around Stonehenge is teeming with previously unseen archaeology and that the application of new technology can transform how archaeologists and the wider public understand one of the best-studied landscapes on Earth.”
Given the new discoveries at the famed monument this year, it’s not difficult to believe that Stonehenge still has several secrets left to uncover.
[Image: The Huffington Post]