The remains of an enormous number of pigs have revealed that ancient Britons traveled from Scotland, Wales, and the northern regions of England to attend gigantic celebratory feasts near Stonehenge starting around 4,500 years ago.
As Haaretz report, it has been surmised that the many pigs carted off to Stonehenge may have traveled there with their owners, who later slaughtered and consumed them at enormous parties.
As Dr. Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University explained, while archaeologists are still not completely certain about why so many Britons headed to Neolithic sites like Stonehenge and Avebury, advanced isotopic analysis has shown that the pigs which were brought and consumed for these celebrations were not to be found locally.
Since the people of Stonehenge used to cremate their loved ones after death rather than bury them, archaeologists have had a difficult time in determining where they originated from through bone analysis.
However, since the pig remains were merely cooked and not cremated like humans, archaeologists were able to study the bones left over from 131 pigs discovered near both Avebury and Stonehenge at Marden, Durrington Walls, West Kennet Palisade Enclosures and Mount Pleasant, and determined that they had lived between 4,800 to 4,400 years ago.
The pig remains found around these sites close to Stonehenge were found to have “great diversity” when it came to their isotope values, and archaeologists have determined that in some cases Britons would have traveled as far as hundreds of miles with these animals to attend the ancient celebrations.
How visitors from as far away as Scotland transported notoriously slow animals across hundreds of kilometers https://t.co/YegR1aStQ1
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) March 13, 2019
It is presently unknown whether these pigs traveled with their owners alive, or as pork. After all, pigs would have had an extremely difficult time traversing such great distances, and archaeologists have pointed to the remains of some showing extremities which would indicate that they may have been killed before beginning the journey to Stonehenge.
Archaeologists have also pointed to the fact that since there weren’t domesticated horses in Britain at this period in time, pigs also wouldn’t have been carried on horses to their final destination, which further suggests that they were slaughtered before the start of the trips.
However, Dr. Madgwick has made it clear that he and fellow archaeologists are still not certain about how the pigs ended up around Stonehenge so long ago.
“I talked with pig farmers around the region who have different types of pigs. They are tremendously difficult animals to move. In Sardinia there are ethnographic examples of moving pigs 40 or 50 kilometers [31 miles], but pig farmers in Britain don’t want to have to move them 200 meters.”
But according to Dr. Madgwick, there is still the distinct possibility that these pigs may have traveled with their owners by boat, sailing down the River Avon for example.
The new research which has delved into the large-scale celebrations of ancient Britons traveling to Stonehenge with a multitude of pigs has been published in Science Advances.