Researchers have discovered new evidence of a very large neolithic village (by neolithic standards, presumably) near Stonehenge. The findings support that the two sites were connected to funeral rites.
The finding strongly suggests that the monument and the settlement nearby were a center for ceremonial activities, with Stonehenge probably a burial site, while other nearby circular earthen and timber "henges" were devoted to feasts and festivals.
The small homes and personal items found beneath the grounds of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site are the first of their kind from that late Stone Age period in Britain, and they suggest a surprising level of social organization and ceremonial behavior to complement the massive stonework nearby. The excavators said their discoveries, about two miles from Stonehenge itself, together constitute an archaeological treasure.
"This is evidence that clarifies the site's true purpose," said Michael Parker Pearson of Sheffield University, one of the main researchers. "We have found that Stonehenge itself was just half of a larger complex," one used by indigenous Britons whose beliefs centered on ancestor and sun worship.
The roughly 90 original slabs of Stonehenge, researchers have long known, were carefully placed to align with the rising and setting of the sun during the summer and winter solstices. The new research, funded in part by the National Geographic Society, concludes that the larger wood and earthen circle about two miles away featured concentric rings of timber posts aligned to mark the solstice in reverse. That monument, called Durrington Walls, was in line with sunset at the summer solstice, while Stonehenge was aligned with the sun's rise on that day.
In addition, last summer's excavation — undertaken by a team of 100 archaeologists from universities around Britain — uncovered an avenue 100 feet wide that led from the second circle to the River Avon. That mirrors a similar, but considerably longer, wide path downstream at Stonehenge, leading the team to conclude that the sites were connected, most likely as part of funerary rituals.
Now, this leads to an interesting question. Will the aging hippies and willful idiots pretending they are Druids now stop going to Stonehenge to conduct their made up rituals? Or will they kill one of their own so they can do the funeral bit right? Inquiring minds really want to know. We here at the Crabitat already have claimed Outhenge for ourselves so they can't move their festivities there.
Jules Crittenden says party central has been found.