This on behalf of Mike Parker-Pearson and the Stonehenge Riverside
(More details - plus photos from Aerial-Cam - on the Britarch website:
BLUESTONEHENGE: TECHNICAL DETAILS
The circle is just under 10m in diameter and was surrounded by a henge –
a ditch with an external bank – with an entrance to the east. The henge
ditch is 25m in diameter and sits at the end of the 1¾-mile avenue that
leads from Stonehenge to the river. Excavations in 2008 established
that this outer henge was built around 2400 BC but arrowheads from the
stone circle indicate that it is likely to be much earlier, dating to
around 3000 BC.
Nine stone holes were identified, part of a circle of probably
twenty-five standing stones. Only the northeast quadrant of the circle,
and a small past of its west side, were excavated. Six stoneholes (A-F)
were found in the northeast quadrant and three (I-K) were found in the
western trench. (Stoneholes G and H are putative stone sockets lying
between the excavated ones; their positions are extrapolated from the
known stones). The centres of Stoneholes A-F are spaced at an average
distance of 1.12m from each other. However, Stoneholes J and K are more
widely spaced. Given the arrangement and curvature of the known stones,
the maximum number of stones in the circle was 25. It may, of course,
have contained fewer.
The dimensions of the holes are too wide and too shallow for them to
have held wooden posts. The imprints of the stones’ bases and the
shapes of the sockets from which they were withdrawn indicate that these
were too small to have been sarsens. They compare exactly with the
dimensions of the bluestones in the inner oval at Stonehenge. The
stones were extracted whole and were not broken up (as was the practice
in the Medieval period). As a result, only two bluestone fragments were
found, both of spotted dolerite.
The bluestone circle was succeeded by a henge, comprising a circular
ditch 23.4m wide with an external bank. Little trace of the henge bank
remains except where it was pushed back into the ditch on its north
side. A date from the tip of a broken antler pick in its basal fill
places its construction within the period 2470-2280 BC. The henge had
at least one entrance – this was on its east side where the northern
ditch terminal contained a special deposit of antlers, an antler pick,
cattle bones and stone and flint tools as well as a burnt organic container.
We found the riverside end of the Stonehenge Avenue (previously only
traced to a spot 150m to the north). It consisted of two parallel
ditches, 18.1m apart. These formerly held upright posts, forming a
small palisade on either side. The Avenue was traced to within a few
metres of the henge ditch and presumably terminated at or close to the
outer bank of the henge. It and the henge may have been built at the
same time given their proximity and symmetrical positioning.
The western arm of the henge’s ditch silted up gradually during the
Bronze Age, with silts interspersed with flint cobble surfaces in the
ditch bottom. After the ditch had fully silted up, its northeastern
quadrant was re-cut. The henge’s interior was also re-used in the Late
Bronze Age with the digging of a small penannular ditch which terminated
at its northeast in a large timber post. This and two other posts
formed a façade or structure within the centre of the henge. A fourth
posthole on the west side of the ditch contained tiny fragments of clay
The next phase of activity was during the Medieval period, specifically
within the 13th century, when a complex series of east-west and
north-south ditches were dug and filled. Ditches and pits continued to
be dug into the post-Medieval period.
Although there was no evidence for domestic occupation during the
Neolithic, the riverside was inhabited during the Mesolithic (8000-4000
BC) and during the Bronze Age (2200-700 BC).
Until radiocarbon dates on antler picks give us firm dates for
construction and dismantling of the stone circle, our best dating
evidence is from the two arrowheads found in the stonehole packing
deposits. These are ‘chisel arrowheads’ which were current between 3400
BC and 2500 BC. They are earlier than the ‘oblique arrowheads’
(2500-2300 BC) and ‘barbed-and-tanged arrowheads’ (2300-1700 BC), styles
found at Stonehenge and Durrington Walls.
In 2008, the Stonehenge Riverside Project’s excavation at Stonehenge
itself found evidence that the first phase of Stonehenge (3000-2935 BC)
consisted of a bluestone circle set inside the ditch and bank. These
stone sockets are the 56 Aubrey Holes that form the outermost ring.
Around 2500 BC the bluestones were re-arranged in the centre of
Stonehenge and numbered about 80 stones. Where did the extra 24 or so
stones come from? We think we know the answer!
Mike Parker Pearson, Josh Pollard, Julian Thomas and Kate Welham
Stonehenge Riverside Project
The Council for British Archaeology
Tel: +44 (0)1904 671417
Fax: +44 (0)1904 671384
Direct Line: +44 (0)1904 521233
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