Stonehenge Discovery Unlocks Key to Prehistoric Stones' Placement

Monday, 09 Sep 2013 07:10 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Excavations at England’s Stonehenge unlocked a key to the placement of the ancient rocks and led historians a step closer to understanding the puzzle of the famous site.

English Heritage, an organization that cares for and protects Britain’s historical places, sponsored the dig to look at the historic route that led to Stonehenge, called the Avenue, The Guardian reported. When a road that crossed the Avenue was closed, archaeologists were able to dig there.

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What they found were ridges created by Ice Age meltwater, the Guardian said, that pointed at the sunset and also at the sunrise. Stonehenge was created on an Ice Age landform.

“It's hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they [prehistoric people] were so interested in the solstices,” Mike Parker Pearson, a Stonehenge expert, told the Guardian. “It’s not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it's about how this place was special to prehistoric people.

“This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one,” he said. “So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land.”

The study also confirmed what some have speculated about for years: that there are indentations where other rocks stood that would have made Stonehenge a complete circle, the Daily Mail reported. Three holes where stones stood were discovered, even though other surveys in the past didn’t find them.

But this year, a dry summer and a short hose that kept the area from being properly watered apparently made the marks stand out, the Daily Mail said.

Stonehenge is currently the focus of a $42 million upgrade done by English Heritage. Changes will include a new visitor center, the Mail said.

More than 1 million people visit the site each year.

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