New Isotope Analysis Of Human Remains At Stonehenge Confirms That Many Of Those Buried Came From Wales

Matt Cardy Getty Images

The cremated remains of ancient people who were buried at the Neolithic monument of Stonehenge were recently studied, and some of these individuals were found to have originated, or at least spent substantial amounts of time in, regions of western Britain and Wales, which is where the bluestone rocks that form Stonehenge are believed to have been taken from.

According to Current Archaeology, samples of the human remains at Stonehenge have been analyzed further through isotope analysis to make a more accurate determination of where these Neolithic people originally came from.

The human remains from Stonehenge that were analyzed were originally excavated by William Hawley, who was able to identify 58 human cremations and have these retrieved between the years 1919 to 1926.

Curiously, these cremated remains were placed inside a pit after their discovery and were once again excavated in 2008. Out of the 58 human cremations that had been re-buried during the beginning of the last century, 25 Neolithic people have been discovered.

Radiocarbon dating of these ancient people buried at Stonehenge shows that some would have lived between the years 3180-2965 BC, with some of the individuals having lived between 2565-2380 BC.

The recent isotope analysis that was conducted on the humans remains found at Stonehenge was a complicated task as the remains had been cremated, but by studying the strontium istotopes, scientists were able to learn much more about the early people of Stonehenge.

“High temperatures that bones are exposed to during burning alter the stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios (which are commonly used to assess diet and mobility). Strontium isotopes, though, which provide information on a person’s whereabouts in the last decade or so before death, remain preserved in cremated bone.”

New isotope analysis of human remains buried at Stonehenge has found many people came from Wales.
New isotope analysis of human remains buried at Stonehenge has found many people came from Wales.Featured image credit: Matt CardyGetty Images

It was discovered that out of the 25 human remains buried at Stonehenge that 15 of these people had isotope ratios that showed they would have lived somewhere within the vicinity of Stonehenge and would not have ventured more than 10 miles away from it for any great length of time.

However, 10 of the Neolithic people had remarkably different isotope ratios which showed that they would have almost certainly come from areas like Devon and Wales, and especially the western region of Wales, with diets that showed similarities with those who lived in Wessex and west Wales.

The new isotope analysis of human remains buried at Stonehenge has shown that the initial results which showed many of the Neolithic people to have come from Wales was indeed correct.