Super-henge discovery 'archaeology on steroids'

  • 07/09/2015
Super-henge discovery 'archaeology on steroids'

By 3 News online staff

A previously unknown ancient 'super-henge' has been found in the UK thanks to digital mapping and experts are calling it "archaeology on steroids".

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project used 21st century methods including ground-penetrating radar to uncover the remains of 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating back to when Stonehenge was erected thousands of years ago.

It's also provided some more information on already known monuments including Durrington Henge, a short distance from Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

The ritual monument is probably the biggest of its type in the world and has a circumference of more than 1.5km.

The surveying technique revealed the monument was flanked with a massive row of posts or stones which number around 60 and are up to three metres high, some of which are hidden under massive banks.

It's also uncovered massive prehistoric pits, some of which appear to form astronomic alignments and burial mounds from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlements.

British project leader Professor Vincent Gaffney of the University of Birmingham says the project has revolutionised the way archaeologists use technology to unravel the mysteries of the past.

Though Stonehenge is one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world, there is still a lot to be learned.

"This project has revealed that the area around Stonehenge is teeming with previously unseen archaeology and that the application of new technology can transform how archaeologists and the wider public understand one of the best-studied landscapes on Earth.

"What we are starting to see is the largest surviving stone monument, preserved underneath a bank, that has ever been discovered in Britain and possibly in Europe."

"This is archaeology on steroids," he told The Guardian.

Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Professor Wolfgang Neubauer says the terrabytes of data which was collected and processed from the site makes it possible to reconstruct the development of Stonehenge and its landscape over time.

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