Friday, 7 December 2012

The Chronology of Stonehenge - Comparison Table

Antiquity magazine has a new article on the Chronology of Stonehenge

Volume: 86 Number: 334 Page: 1021–1040
Stonehenge remodelledTimothy Darvill, Peter Marshall, Mike Parker Pearson and Geoff Wainwright
It is a much better article than the Press Releases suggest. I highly recommend it.

To quote:

In developing a new sequence, we rejected the idea of neat architectural phases, in favour of five main periods or ‘stages’, each of which embraces a set of activities related to a more or less coherent pattern of archaeological evidence. Dating each stage, of varying duration, involves dating the events and activities assigned to it. This entails a consideration of vertical and horizontal stratigraphy, associated finds, and synchronisms established through the dating of particular items, deposits and horizons.  Naturally, some components can be assigned more confidently to a particular stage than others, and we have tried to make this explicit. Here attention focuses only on the evidence relating to the third and early second millennia cal BC.We retain all existing naming, numbering, and lettering of stones and cut features such as stoneholes, so that the revised sequence is easily comparable to all previous (and subsequent) literature.

 I thought it worthwhile to provide a table to facilitate that comparison.

Darvill et al 2012
Darvill et al 2012
Atkinson 1979
Atkinson 1979
Cleal et al 1995
Construction of a circular earthwork enclosure 110m in diameter bounded
by a bank and ditch with main access on the NE and smaller entrance to
the S (3000–2920 cal BC). Deposition of ancestral tokens in the base of
the ditch. Digging of 56 Aubrey holes around the inner edge of bank,
possibly to hold bluestones and/or posts. Cremation burials begin to be
inserted into the ditch, bank, and Aubrey holes. Pits dug in the central
area. Timber posts and stakes set up, in some cases forming simple
rectangular structures. Possibly in this stage (or earlier) a post-built
structure in the NE entrance; stones B, C and 97 outside the NE entrance.

3000–2620 cal BC

Construction of the bank, ditch, and Aubrey holes. Erection of the Heel
stone, stones D and E, and the timber structure at A. Inception and use
of the cremation cemetery. Station stones perhaps erected near the end
of this period.
2800–2100 BC
Bank and ditch
construction; Aubrey
holes supporting timber
settings; primary backfill
in the ditch
2950–2900 cal BC
Trilithon horseshoe comprising five sarsen trilithons set up in the centre of
the site with SW–NE solstitial axis (midwinter sunset/midsummer
sunrise). Double bluestone circle of between 50 and 80 bluestones set up
outside the trilithon horseshoe with a shared SW–NE axis. Sarsen circle
comprising 30 shaped uprights linked by 30 lintels built outside the
double bluestone circle. Altar stone perhaps placed within the trilithon
horseshoe. Four Station stones. A D-shaped rammed chalk floor
(?structure) around stone 92 at the SE entrance superceded by the south
barrow. Stones B and C removed. Stone 95 (Slaughter stone) erected with
stones D and E added inside the NE entrance. Possible modifications to
the earthworks in the NE entrance. Cremations continue to be deposited
through to c. 2400 cal BC. EITHER stone 96 (Heel stone) added to the
existing stone 97 outside the NE entrance to form a pair fixing the solstice
axis OR the stone formerly in stonehole 97 removed and re-erected as
stone 96 (Heel stone). Ditch dug around the Heel stone (or early Stage 3).

2620–2480 cal BC

Widening of the entrance causeway and transfer of stones D and E to
holes B and C. Digging and filling of the Heel stone ditch.
Construction of the first part of the Avenue. Erection of the double
bluestone circle in the Q and R holes, unfinished.
2100–2000 BC
Timber settings in the interior,
including the
southern passage
Natural filling of the ditch;
deposition of cremations
in bank and ditch fill;
timber settings in the
Aubrey holes dismantled;
cremations in the top of
Aubrey holes
2900–2400 cal BC
Bluestones (perhaps from Bluestonehenge) arranged as the central bluestone
circle within the trilithon horseshoe. Main ditch recut. Stones D and E in
the NE entrance removed. Avenue constructed to link Stonehenge to the
henge built around the former Bluestonehenge beside the River Avon
2.8km away. Large pit dug against great trilithon. Beaker-style inhumation
burial in ditch
2480–2280 cal BC

IIIa Dismantling of the double bluestone circle. Erection of the trilithon
horseshoe, sarsen circle, and the Slaughter stone and its companion.
Carvings made after erection.
2000 BC
IIIb Tooling and erection of stones of the dressed bluestone setting. At the
end, digging and abandonment, unfinished, of the Y and Z holes.
2000–1550 BC
IIIc Dismantling of the dressed bluestone structure. Re-erection of all the
bluestones in the present bluestone circle and bluestone horseshoe.
1550–1100 BC
2000 - 1100 BC
Arrival of the bluestones from south-west Wales
3i Double bluestone
circle (Q and R
3a Stones: 97, Heel stone, and
station stones; topmost
fill of ditch forms;
cremations continue

Central bluestone circle and double bluestone circle dismantled and re-built
as bluestone oval of c. 25 monoliths inside the trilithon horseshoe and the
outer bluestone circle of between 40 and 60 monoliths in the space
between the trilithon horseshoe and the sarsen circle.

2280–2020 cal BC

Extension of the Avenue from Stonehenge Bottom to West Amesbury
1100 BC

Arrival of sarsens from Wessex Downlands
3ii Sarsen circle and
sarsen trilithon
3b Heel stone ditch dug;
north and south barrow
ditches dug; stones D, E,
and Slaughter stone
2550–1600 cal BC
3iii Bluestone settling
with lintels
Extensive use of Stonehenge with working of some bluestones into artefacts.
Working floor and occupation outside the earthwork on the NW side.
Rock-art including Arreton-stage axes and daggers applied (c. 1650–1500
cal BC) to stones forming the sarsen circle and trilithon horseshoe.
Construction of the Y and Z holes in the period 1630–1520 cal BC.
Numerous round barrow cemeteries built in the surrounding landscape.

2020–1520 cal BC

Possibly some deliberate destruction of the stones.
AD 50–400
3iv Bluestone circle
and bluestone
3c Avenue constructed; stones
B and C raised; Beaker
burial in ditch
3v Bluestone
3vi Y and Z holes


  1. The table is almost a timeline of timelines! Interesting stuff