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A new henge discovered at Stonehenge

22 July 10


An international team, including archaeologists from the University of Bradford, are poised to change history after discovering a major ceremonial monument less than one kilometre away from the iconic Stonehenge.

The incredible find has been hailed by the team as one of the most significant yet for those researching the UK’s most important prehistoric structure.

It was uncovered just two weeks into a three-year study as part of the multi-million Euro international Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

Dr Chris Gaffney, Lecturer in Archaeological Geophysics at the University of Bradford, said: “Discovering a new site so close to Stonehenge is extremely exciting. Finding sites using geophysical techniques is quite routine but to do so in an area that has been studied for many generations is a great achievement. A 'new' henge so close to Stonehenge is a tremendously important discovery that could radically change our perception of the Stonehenge landscape."

The new “henge-like” Late Neolithic monument is believed to be contemporaneous to Stonehenge and appears to be on the same orientation as the World Heritage Site monument.

It comprises a segmented ditch with opposed north-east/south-west entrances that are associated with internal pits that are up to one metre in diameter and could have held a free-standing, timber structure.

The Bradford team are working with archaeologists from Birmingham University and the new Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology.

The project has brought together the most sophisticated geophysics team ever to be engaged in a single archaeological project in Britain. British partners are the University of Birmingham, the Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Bradford and the Department of Earth Science at the University of St Andrews. European partners include Austria, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

The project is supported by the landowner, the National Trust, and assisted by English Heritage. 

Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, adds:  "This is just the beginning. We will now map this monument using an array of technologies that will allow us to view this new discovery, and the landscape around it, in three dimensions. This marks a new departure for archaeologists and how they investigates the past."

Dr Christopher Gaffney, of the University of Bradford, adds: “The strategy that we are implementing within this project has provided a first glimpse of new and important information regarding the hidden past at Stonehenge. We aim to cover large areas around Stonehenge and we expect this to be the first of many significant discoveries.”

Mr Paul Garwood, prehistorian at the Institute of archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham, said “This discovery is of great importance for our understanding of the Stonehenge landscape in the 3rd millennium BC. Its location, a short distance from Stonehenge, and the fact that the two monuments were inter-visible, raises exciting new questions about the complex sacred landscape that existed around Stonehenge when the sarsen and bluestone monument was constructed.”

22 July 10

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For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail press@bradford.ac.uk or fax on (01274) 236280.