A „unique“ prehistoric structure, forming a circle more than two kilometers in diameter, has been unearthed near the famous megalithic site of Stonehenge, in the South West of England, announced on Monday June 22, 2020 the Scottish university St Andrews. „Fieldwork and recent analyzes have revealed the presence of twenty or more prehistoric massive excavations, with a diameter of more than ten meters and five meters deep,“ the university said in a statement.
These excavations form a circle of more than two kilometers in diameter around the Neolithic enclosure („henge“) of Durrington Walls and the site of Woodhenge, about three kilometers from Stonehenge. They would have been dug more than 4,500 years ago, around the time when Durrington Walls was erected. According to archaeologists, these excavations would have marked the limits of a sacred area in the Neolithic era, associated with the appearance of the first farmers in Great Britain and sometimes the erection of very imposing ritual structures. „However, no prehistoric structure in the UK surrounds an area as large as the circle of excavations at Durrington, and this structure is currently unique,“ the statement said.
For Richard Bates of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews, this discovery „gives us a glimpse of the past which shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine“. „Obviously sophisticated practices demonstrate that people were in tune with natural events to an extent that we can barely imagine in the modern world we live in,“ he added.
The announcement of this discovery comes just after the summer solstice celebrations on the Stonehenge site which usually bring together thousands of people but were held this year on the internet because of the new coronavirus pandemic. Nick Snashall, an archaeologist at Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, praised this „astounding“ discovery which „offers us a new vision on the life and beliefs of our Neolithic ancestors“.