Stones for the Henge

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Archaeologists have solved one of Stonehenge’s greatest mysteries - the precise source of the world-famous prehistoric temple’s largest stones.


A new scientific breakthrough has, for the first time, allowed geologists to pinpoint almost exactly where Stonehenge’s giant stone uprights and lintels came from, around 2,500 BC.


Originally thought to have come from the Preseli Hills in Wales (about 180 miles away) but, more recently, archaeologists discovered with reasonable certainty that the stones (a type of rock known as sarsen, weighing from 20 to 40 tons) had actually been brought in by the great temple’s Neolithic builders from the Marlborough Downs or immediately adjacent areas - a 75 sq. miles area, 15-25 miles north of Stonehenge.


But now scientists from the University of Brighton have traced the stones to a small very specific two sq. mile part of that range of hills - a patch of woodland just south of the village of Lockeridge, Wiltshire.


In prehistoric and indeed later times, that area (now known as West Woods) seems to have been strewn with particularly large sarsen boulders, geochemically identical to those used to build Stonehenge.


Recent detailed examination of the West Woods area by Reading University archaeologist, Katy Whitaker, suggests that the builders of Stonehenge probably chose it as their source of stone because of the exceptional sizes and relative flatness of many of its sarsen boulders.


New archaeological research about the site has revealed that even 1,200 years before Stonehenge was built, the West Woods area’s great sarsen slabs were used to construct a massive local prehistoric tomb.


Now that the source of Stonehenge’s great stones has finally been identified, archaeological attention is likely to turn to discovering the precise route used by the monument’s prehistoric builders to move the giant 20-40 ton stones from West Woods to Stonehenge (a distance of around 15 miles).

Original source: The Independent