A new Stonehenge theory was revealed today by a team of British researchers.
Roughly 500 years prior to the construction of the Stonehenge monument that still stands today, a larger circle of stones was erected around what researchers now believe was a massive community burial ground. The site is thought to have been large enough to hold the bodies of nearly 300 individuals.
Researchers from more than a dozen universities across Britain concluded that the original ancient Stonehenge structure, built around 3,000 B.C., was used as a grave site for entire families based on the study of cremated human remains excavated from the site.
“These were men, women, children, so presumably family groups,” explained Mike Parker Pearson, a University College London professor and lead author of the study.
“We’d thought that maybe it was a place where a dynasty of kings was buried, but this seemed to be much more of a community, a different kind of power structure,” he continued.
According to Parker Pearson, the team studied the cremated remains of 63 individuals thought to buried at the site around the time of its construction.
Research reportedly indicated that the graves were originally marked by bluestones in a circular enclosure measuring approximately 300 feet.
The academic group also offered a new Stonehenge theory regarding construction of the second massive stone structure built roughly 500 years later at the same location. The team believes the project was a joint effort, accomplished by nearly 4,000 individuals who traveled across Britain to congregate at the site.
Remains of a settlement near Stonehenge is thought to have served as a temporary home for the monument’s builders. Study of animal remains excavated from the site seem to support the theory that British families returned to the settlement in cycles.
By analyzing the teeth and bones of livestock brought to the settlement, researchers concluded that the animals born in springtime were typically slaughtered between the ages of nine and 15 months.
This would suggest that families consumed the food during the midwinter and midsummer months, falling in line with the winter and summer solstices. The findings lead researchers to theorize that the builders returned to Stonehenge during particular seasons, likely over the time span of nearly a decade.
Prof Parker Pearson said: “What we have discovered is it’s in building the thing that’s important,” concludes Parker Pearson. “It’s not that they’re coming to worship, they’re coming to construct it.”
Do you agree with the new Stonehenge theory that proposes the ancient site was constructed as a burial ground?