The findings reinforce the theory that the megaliths were brought to Stonehenge at almost the same time: about 2,500 BC.
Research published by Science Advances this Wednesday on Stonehenge could clear doubts about its origin, which has puzzled historians and archaeologists for centuries.
The publication found that most of the giant stones that make up the place, known as sarsens, seem to share a common origin 25 km away, in West Woods, an area of great prehistoric activity.
The findings reinforce the theory that the megaliths were brought to Stonehenge at almost the same time: about 2,500 BC, in the second phase of the monument’s construction, which in turn could be a sign that its builders belonged to a highly organized society.
The research also contradicts previous claims that a large rock specifically – the one known as Heel Stone – belongs to the immediate vicinity of the site and was erected before the rest.
Research director, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton, stated that they used portable X-rays to analyze the chemical composition of rocks, which are 99 per cent silica, but contain traces of various other elements.
They examined two medullary samples from one of the rocks that had been obtained during restoration work in 1958. They applied the samples to a more sophisticated analysis technique called mass spectrometry, which detects a wider range of elements with more precision.
The result of the composition was then compared with 20 possible places of origin of these sedimentary rocks, with West Woods and Wiltshire being the closest related places. Previous research found that the smallest stones from Stonehenge came from Wales, some 200 km to the west. However, the new study ensures that those stones and sarsen were placed at the same time.
It is still unknown how the first British were able to transport the huge rocks 25 km, although the predominant idea is that they were dragged with sledges. However, the meaning of the place remains a mystery.
As for why West Woods was chosen as the origin of the stones, the professor considered that it could be pragmatism, as it is one of the closest places. But abundant early Neolithic activity has been detected in the area, with numerous tombs – known as burial mounds – large circular excavations and a rock that was used to sharpen axes.
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