Archaeologists in the United Kingdom have discovered an enormous stone formation just a mile from Stonehenge that makes the famous circle of sandstone slabs seem puny by comparison.
According to the Daily Mail, an international team of researchers found a line of up to 100 sandstone boulders buried just three feet underground along a steep slope. Each measures up to 15 feet tall, and they’re thought to date back 4,500 years. About 30 of the stones have survived in intact, whereas the rest are fragments.
“We’re looking at one of the largest stone monuments in Europe and it has been under our noses for something like 4,000 years,” archaeologist Vince Gaffney told the newspaper. “We don’t think there’s anything quite like this anywhere else in the world. This is completely new and the scale is extraordinary.”
The discovery was announced Monday at the British Science Festival by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, an international collaboration between the University of Birmingham, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, and the University of Bradford. The archaeologists used noninvasive radar technology to locate the stones. They found them on a ridge along the southeastern edge of Durrington Walls — another ginormous henge made from earth that the same group revealed last year.
These subterranean stones help paint a better picture of what the ancient society that created them was capable of. But they also enlarge the mystery. What happened to them? Were they a part of Stonehenge or of something else? And most importantly, what do they mean?
One thing’s certain: it’s fun to see a new chapter opened on the history of the land surrounding Stonehenge, a site that has long baffled archaeologists. Those behind the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project are making unprecedented progress. As Paul Garwood, senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Birmingham, said in a release, “Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be re-written.”