STONEHENGE may have stood in Wales for 400 years before it was dismantled and rebuilt in Wiltshire.
That’s according to archaeologists, who have uncovered stone-shaped holes in Pembrokeshire where they believe 5,000-year-old monument once stood.
The holes are in the Preseli Hills, where the smaller “bluestones” found at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain are known to have come from.
The team behind the discovery, made during filming for a BBC programme, said there are key elements linking Stonehenge to the Welsh monument.
Named Waun Mawn, it’s one of the biggest stone circles ever found in Britain, with a diameter matching that of Stonehenge.
They suggest its bluestones could have been moved as the ancient people of the Preseli region migrated, even taking their monuments with them roughly 400 years after erecting them.
Archaeologists uncovered stone-shaped holes in Pembrokeshire where they believe 5,000-year-old monument once stood
The holes are in the Preseli Hills, where the smaller ‘bluestones’ found at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain are known to have come from
It’s thought the two-ton lumps were viewed as signs of their ancestral identity and were re-erected at Stonehenge, 175 miles away.
The theory could explain why the bluestones, thought to be the first monoliths erected at Stonehenge, were brought from so far away.
Most circles are constructed within a short distance of their quarries, the experts said.
Archaeological investigations as part of the “Stones of Stonehenge” research project, led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London, previously excavated two bluestone quarries in the Preseli Hills.
Named Waun Mawn, it’s one of the biggest stone circles ever found in Britain, with a diameter matching that of Stonehenge
Their discovery that the bluestones had been extracted before the first stage of Stonehenge was built in 3000 BC prompted the team to re-investigate the nearby Waun Mawn stones to see if it was the site of a stone circle supplied by the quarry and later moved.
Only four monoliths remain at the site, but an archaeological dig in 2018 revealed holes where stones would have stood, showing the remaining stones are part of a wider circle of 30-50 stones.
And the scientific dating of charcoal and sediment from the holes reveal it was put up around 3400 BC.
Findings of the discovery, published in the journal Antiquity, show significant links between Stonehenge and Waun Mawn.
Experts suggest the Welsh circle’s stones could have been moved as the ancient people of the Preseli region migratedCredit: Getty – Contributor
The Welsh circle has a diameter of 360ft (110m), the same as the ditch that encloses Stonehenge, and both are aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise.
Several of the monoliths at the World Heritage Site on Salisbury Plain are of the same rock type as those that still remain at the Welsh site.
And one of the bluestones at Stonehenge has an unusual cross-section which matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn.
This suggests that the monolith began its life as part of the stone circle in the Preseli Hills before being moved.
Several of the monoliths at the World Heritage Site on Salisbury Plain are of the same rock type as those that still remain at the Welsh site
Waun Mawn is the third biggest stone circle in Britain and one of the earliest, and confirms that the region was an important and densely settled area in Neolithic times until 3000 BC when activity seems to have ceased.
Prof Parker Pearson said: “It’s as if they just vanished. Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones – their ancestral identities – with them.”
Analysis of the remains of people buried at Stonehenge at the time the bluestones were erected there would seem to back up the theory.
It shows some of them were from western Britain, possibly Wales.
One of the bluestones at Stonehenge has an unusual cross-section which matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn
With only a few of the Stonehenge stones directly linked to Waun Mawn, the archaeologists also believe monoliths from other stone circles could have been taken from Wales to form part of the new monument.
Prof Parker Pearson said: “With an estimated 80 bluestones put up on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge and nearby Bluestonehenge, my guess is that Waun Mawn was not the only stone circle that contributed to Stonehenge.
“Maybe there are more in Preseli waiting to be found. Who knows? Someone will be lucky enough to find them.”
Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed will be broadcast on BBC Two at 9pm on Friday February 12.
What is Stonehenge?
What you need to know about Britain’s most mysterious monument…
- Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire
- It’s a ring of standing stones that measures up to 30 feet tall and is seven feet wide
- Each stone weighs roughly 25 tons
- Experts say that the monument was constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC
- In 1882, it was legally protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument
- And in 1986, the site and surroundings became a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Stonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage
- But the land around Stonehenge is owned by the National Trust
- Part of what makes Stonehenge so mysterious is that it was produced by a culture with no written records
- Scientists regularly debate over how and why Stonehenge was built, and what it was used for
- One theory suggests Stonehenge was a sacred burial site
- Another proposes that it was used for celestial and astronomical alignments
- And some think it was an ancient place of healing
- It used to be believed that it was created as a Druid temple
- But we now know that Stonehenge predated the Druids by around 2000 years
In other news, scientists last week unveiled a series of lost Bronze Age graves discovered at the Stonehenge tunnel site.
A rare photo has shown that Stonehenge was built like Lego using carved studs and holes.
And, the face of a 1,000-year-old Viking warrior woman with a gruesome battle wound across her skull has been revealed.
What do you make of the Stonehenge discovery? Let us know in the comments!
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