British archaeologists believe they have pinpointed the origins of the 5,000-year-old prehistoric Stonehenge ruin.
A team of scientists, led by University College London’s Mike Parker Pearson, reported in the journal Antiquity on Friday that they had unearthed a stone circle in Wales’ Preseli Hills that they believe had been dismantled and moved 175 miles to Salisbury Plain and reconfigured as Stonehenge.
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The “Waun Mawn” site — previously disregarded over the years — was found to have just four large bluestones left arranged in an arc. Pearson and his researchers uncovered evidence of an additional six holes that originally held a stone in 2018, giving rise to the theory that people had taken them as they migrated.
Upon measuring the diameter of the circular ditch at Waun Mawn, the group found that the ditches surrounding both sites shared identical diameters of about 360 feet across.
Waun Mawn — which appears to be Britain’s third-largest stone circle — and Stonehenge are the only two Neolithic monuments in Britain that conform to those specifications and examination of charcoal and sediment inside the holes suggested that Waun Mawn’s creation could be traced back to about 3,400 B.C.
In addition, the dimensions of the 43 bluestones at Stonehenge — many of which are buried — match the dimensions of the four at Waun Mawn and are the same type of rock as three of them.
One of the Stonehenge bluestones also has a cross-section that matches one of the gaps at Waun Mawn.
To further prove their connection, Pearson found that the entrance to both circles was aligned toward the midsummer solstice sunrise — though, the circle’s intended purpose remains shrouded in mystery.
Stonehenge was constructed in phases starting at around 3,000 B.C.
The Wiltshire county monument was built using both bluestones and newer and larger sarsen sandstones.
Previous research over the last few decades showed that while the sarsen stones were brought from just 15 miles away in Marlborough, the bluestone pillars had been extracted from the Preseli Hills.
In 2019, Pearson and his team provided evidence of the locations of two of the bluestone quarries, prompting them to look over Waun Mawn again.
Scientific analysis of human remains at Stonehenge indicated that some of them could have come from Wales, and further excavations are planned to try to understand more.
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Pearson hypothesized both that Stonehenge was made to commemorate the ancestors of those who built it and that Stonehenge’s first stage may have served to unite the people of southern Britain.
“Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones – their ancestral identities – with them, to start again in this other special place,” he said in a news release. “This extraordinary event may also have served to unite the peoples of east and west Britain.”