Friday 22 July 2016

Stonehenge's Avenue and ‘Bluestonehenge’ - The origins of the Stonehenge landscape?

Stonehenge's Avenue and ‘Bluestonehenge’ - The origins of the Stonehenge landscape?

Michael J. Allen,Ben Chan,Ros Cleal,Charles French,Peter Marshall,Joshua Pollard,Rebecca Pullen,Colin Richards,Clive Ruggles,David Robinson,Jim Rylatt,Julian Thomas,Kate Welham and Mike Parker Pearson (2016).

Antiquity, Volume 90, Issue352, August 2016, pp 991-1008


Stonehenge is a site that continues to yield surprises. Excavation in 2009 added a new and unexpected feature: a smaller, dismantled stone circle on the banks of the River Avon, connected to Stonehenge itself by the Avenue. This new structure has been labelled ‘Bluestonehenge’ from the evidence that it once held a circle of bluestones that were later removed to Stonehenge. Investigation of the Avenue closer to Stonehenge revealed deep periglacial fissures within it. Their alignment on Stonehenge's solstitial axis (midwinter sunset–midsummer sunrise) raises questions about the early origins of this ritual landscape.


“Stonehenge has long been known to form part of a larger prehistoric landscape,” write archaeologist Michael J. Allen and his colleagues. “In particular, it is part of a composite monument that includes the Stonehenge Avenue and the newly discovered West Amesbury henge, which is situated at the eastern end of the Avenue beside the River Avon. Inside that henge lies an earlier circle of stoneholes, formerly holding small standing stones; this is known as ‘Bluestonehenge’.”

The researchers said the Avenue has been known for centuries, but in 2008 and 2009 the Stonehenge Riverside Project did more explorations and dug new trenches and ascertained that the road reached the River Avon.

“The aim was to establish whether the Avenue was built in more than one phase, and whether it actually reached the river, thereby addressing the theory that Stonehenge was part of a larger complex linked by the river to Durrington Walls henge and its newly discovered avenue, two miles upstream,” they wrote....Also, along the River Avon researchers have found activity from the 8 th millennium BC through the 5 th millennium BC, “making it, potentially, an unusually ‘persistent place’ within the early Holocene,”

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