Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Stonehenge burial pit for the Neolithic elite contains a 'surprising' number of women: Find suggests females played a key role in the society and had same rights as men

  • Researchers found 99 lbs (45kg) of cremated bone in a Stonehenge pit
  • They have identified 14 females and nine males with the help of CT scans 
  • This contrasts with studied from other Neolithic tombs in southern Britain
  • Find shows women were among the elite buried at the stone monument and were given the same right and treatment as men in the community

Christie Willis, from the University College London and an expert on human remains,
sorted through bone fragments (example shown left) from the famous site.
Other members of the team are shown right near the pit. She identified 14 females and nine males,
with the help of CT scans and osteological analysis

Caricatures of Stone Age man may cast him as a bit of a brute, and few depictions of Stonehenge across art work and TV feature images of women.
But a burial pit found at Stonehenge challenges this view by revealing a 'surprising' number of females among those cremated at the Wiltshire site.
Researchers have spent years sifting through and analysing the remains of adults found at the monument to discover that, to their astonishment, more bones belonged to women than men.

The find contrasts with earlier studies from older Neolithic tombs in southern Britain, where burials showed a higher ratio of adult males to females.
But it supports the theory that Stonehenge functioned as a cemetery for leaders, according to a report published in the latest issue of British Archaeology.

The paper explained that between 100 and 200 people are said to have been buried across the Stonehenge site during the late Neolithic and copper age.
This study, however, focused particularly on a pit known as Aubrey Hole seven - one of 56 chalk pits encircling the famous ancient site.
Burials at Stonehenge were likely for people of higher status so this this study shows women were members of the elite as long ago as 2,000 BC.

The Stonehenge Tourist Blog

Friday, 29 January 2016

Architect presents radical new theory that Stonehenge was a two-storey, wooden feasting and performance hall

Could the prehistoric Stonehenge megaliths once have been the support for a wooden, two-storey roundhouse, a venue for feasting, speakers and musicians? That’s the theory of an English landscape architect who designed a small model of what she has in mind and is looking for money to build a 1:10 scale model of the structure.

Sarah Ewbank says the fact she is not an archaeologist has freed her from preconceived notions and allowed her to approach the matter in a fresh way.
Ms Ewbank told Ancient Origins via email about her vision of Stonehenge:
“I believe Stonehenge was a Bronze-age venue, a large oval hall encircled and overlooked by galleries. Interestingly the upper level was tiered, the height of different sections reflecting the different height trilithons.  Consider both hall and galleries filled, listening to a speaker, or maybe there was feasting on the galleries with dancing below, perhaps crowds gathered to listen to singing or musicians playing, or maybe ceremonies took place to welcome in the solstices. It all sounds rather splendid and certainly needed – there were no electronic gadgets then!
My view – such a splendid building deserved to be used often – so, much as the Albert Hall in London serves to accommodate every type of gathering, so I believe our Bronze-age ancestors used Stonehenge whenever such a venue was required. Our bronze-age ancestors were intelligent people with needs similar to ours today. Forget the furry loin cloth and ritual sacrifice stuff - it's wrong.”
She said she’s discussed her theories with other experts. Some of them agree with her interpretation of the building’s use, but others strongly disagree and argue for the traditional view

Read the full story:

The Stonehenge Tourist Blog

Stonehenge Tickets and Day Trips from London.

The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world. What visitors see today are the substantial remnants of the last in a sequence of such monuments erected between circa 3000BC and 1600BC. Each monument was a circular structure, aligned with the rising of the sun at the midsummer solstice.

There has always been intense debate over quite what purpose Stonehenge served. Certainly, it was the focal point in a landscape filled with prehistoric ceremonial structures. It also represented an enormous investment of labour and time. A huge effort and great organisation was needed to carry the stones tens, and sometimes hundreds, of miles by land and water and then to shape and raise them. Only a sophisticated society could have mustered so large a workforce and the design and construction skills necessary to produce Stonehenge and its surrounding monuments.
Stonehenge's orientation in relation to the rising and setting sun has always been one of its most remarkable features. Whether this was because its builders came from a sun-worshipping culture or because - as some scholars have asserted - the circle and its banks were part of a huge astronomical calendar, remains a mystery. What cannot be denied is the ingenuity of the builders of Stonehenge. With only very basic tools at their disposal, they shaped the stones and formed the mortises and tenons that linked uprights to lintels. Using antlers and bones, they dug the pits to hold the stones and made the banks and ditches that enclosed them
Mystery surrounds this 5,000 year old monument in the centre of the World Heritage Site. Visit this prehistoric site and decide for yourself whether Stonehenge was a place of sun worship, a healing sanctuary, a sacred burial site, or something different altogether!

Stonehenge coach trips depart daily from central London
The Stonehenge Tourist Blog