It’s 1,640 feet in diameter, surrounded by a 54ft wide ditch and a 3ft high bank… and it’s been hiding a secret for thousands of years: a row of 90 massive standing stones.
Just a few miles from Stonehenge is Durrington Walls – an enclosure built over 4,500 years ago that’s so large it has been dubbed Superhenge.
As if the discovery of a monument that’s 10 times the size of Stonehenge isn’t enough, archaeologists have gone and discovered another, even more impressive one underneath that.
This enormous ritual monument, which dates from the time of Stonehenge, has been found under the main bank of Durrington Walls.
Although Durrington Walls is, like Stonehenge, curved, it also has one straight side which has been a puzzle to archaeologists for years.
As part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project, which previously revealed that Stonehenge did not stand in ‘splendid isolation’, archaeologists probed the area with Ground Penetrating Radar and found that underneath this straight edge, there’s actually a row of 90 massive standing stones, which have fallen over and been buried.
The stones would have originally stood 15 feet high forming a c-shape, and is thought to date to the same time as the sarsen circle at Stonehenge.
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Bradford, said that archaeologists believe that the stones were pushed over and the bank built on top, and that this rebuilding event could represent an enormous shift in society, or religion.
Even more remarkably, he said that while the overlying bank was aligned with the mid-winter solstice, the buried monument seems to be on a different alignment.
“It’s archaeology on steroids” Vince Gaffney told the Guardian.
Vince, I think we have to agree. At the very least, this tantalizing glimpse of what lies underneath the Stonehenge landscape, and the revelation that Superhenge – one of the largest Neolithic earthworks in Europe – was before that surrounded by 90 enormous standing stones, adds a whole new chapter to the Stonehenge story.
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