Stonehenge, the mysterious, 5,000-year-old stone monument that sits on a plain in the southwest England county of Wiltshire, has long puzzled scientists who have proposed numerous theories about how the massive structure was built and perhaps even more importantly, why.
The newest theory, however, may finally shed light on the strange stone circle’s origins — and it suggests that Stonehenge may actually be hundreds of years older than archaeologists previously believed. But there’s a catch.
While Stonehenge may have existed on the Wiltshire plain since about 3,100 B.C., the same monument may have existed earlier, about 140 miles to the west, in Wales, constructed as an ancestral tomb by the prehistoric Welsh people.
— HISTORY UK (@HISTORYUK) June 22, 2016
But when those ancient Welsh tribes migrated to the east, to what is today the south of England, they took some very weighty “luggage,” according to British archaeologist Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London’s Institute of Archaeology.
At least since the 1920s, archaeologists have known that some of the stones used to construct Stonehenge came from quarries in Wales, about 140 miles east of where Stonehenge has stood for more than 5,000 years.
But what they’ve never been able to figure out is why the prehistoric tribes of Britain who built Stonehenge would travel as far away as present-day Wales to acquire stones to build their monument when there were numerous rock quarries much closer to the plain where the ancient stone circle was erected.
Pearson believes he may have the answer.
“The Welsh connection isn’t just about stones it’s likely to be a long term movement from west to east at this particular time,” the archaeologist said in a recent public speech, unveiling his theory.
Parker believes that the ancient Welsh people constructed Stonehenge as a monument to their deceased ancestors. When they migrated east, they had no choice but to take the stones with them — because to leave them behind would be to abandon those ancestral dead.
“Their idea of packing their luggage was rather more deep and meaningful than our own,” Pearson said in his talk. “They are actually moving their heritage and these stones represent the ancestors. The more we find out about Neolithic society, their culture and religion, it is focused on the ancestral dead. That is a society that is worshiping its ancestors.”
The following video contains further details on the theory that Stonehenge was first constructed in Wales.
When the migrants finally reached what is now Wiltshire in England, dragging the massive stones the whole way, they rebuilt the monument using the original stones as well as some new stones extracted from nearby quarries, to create what survives today, five millennia later, as Stonehenge.
Archaeologists working with both University College London and the University of Leicester in England say they have discovered the exact rock quarries in Wales where the ancient builders of Stonehenge first mined the stones, hundreds of years before the migration east and the rebuilding of Stonehenge.
— Press Association (@PA) June 21, 2016
The scientists have even been able to identify, by cracks in the rock, exactly which stones used in the Stonehenge structure were taken from specific locations in the quarries, located at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-yfelin in Wales.
Adding further confirmation to the theory of the Welsh origin of Stonehenge, archaeologists have excavated approximately 500,000 bone fragments from the current Stonehenge site, finding that many of them had actually belonged to ancient people who may have lived far west of the Wiltshire site, even in Wales itself.
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The find seems to indicate that not only did the ancient Welsh migrants transport the stones that served as the monument now known as Stonehenge, but they also transported the remains of their ancestors who were buried in Wales, and buried them again at the new site, because “Stonehenge is the largest cemetery of the entire third millennium BC in Britain,” Pearson said.
[Featured Photo By Jaroslava V / Shutterstock]