Was Marden Henge the builder’s yard for Stonehenge?

The last revellers seem to have cleared up scrupulously after the final party at Marden Henge some 4,500 years ago.

They scoured the rectangular building and the smart white chalk platform on top of the earth bank, with its spectacular view towards the river Avon in one direction, and the hills from which the giant sarsen stones were brought to Stonehenge in the other.

All traces of the feast – the pig bones, the ashes and the burnt stones from the barbecue that cooked them, the broken pots and bowls – were swept neatly into a dump to one side. A few precious offerings, including an exquisitely worked flint arrowhead, were carefully laid on the clean chalk. Then they covered the whole surface with a thin layer of clay, stamped it flat, and left. Forever.

In the past fortnight, English Heritage archaeologists have peeled back the thin layer of turf covering the site, which has somehow escaped being ploughed for more than 4,000 years. They were astounded to find the undisturbed original surface just as the prehistoric Britons left it.

“We’re gobsmacked really,” said site director Jim Leary.

Giles Woodhouse, a volunteer digger who must return next week to his day job as a lieutenant colonel in the army bound for Germany and then Afghanistan, has been crouched over the rubbish dump day after day, his black labrador Padma sighing at his side. He has been teasing the soil away from bone, stone and pottery so perfectly preserved it could have been buried last year.

It gives one a bit of a shiver down the backbone to realise the last man to touch these died 4,500 years ago,” he said. His finds, still emerging from the soil, will rewrite the history of the site…

So why did the site’s temporary occupants leave? Maybe with Stonehenge complete, the sarsens shaped into the giant trilithons that still fill the hordes of modern visitors with awe, their job was done. They tidied up nicely, turned out the lights, and left.

RTFA. Delightful. A word picture of discoveries taking us back 4500 years.

An enjoyable read. Makes you want to get your butt across the pond for some volunteer labor.

Blue Stonehenge discovered near the original

Archaeologists have discovered Stonehenge’s little sister, dubbed Bluestonehenge, just 2.8km away on the west bank of the River Avon.

The site, once made up of 25 blue Preseli stones – hence it’s nickname – was constructed about 5,000 years ago. According to archaeologists from the Stonehenge Riverside Project, Bluestonehenge linked the ‘domain of the dead’ to that of the living at Durrington Walls further upstream, with the River Avon being the vital link between the two.

Archaeologists believe the stones represented the end of the Avenue that marked the funerary processional route from the River Avon to Stonehenge: no pottery, animal bones, food residues or flint tools associated with domestic life have been found at Bluestonehenge…

Prof. Julian Thomas, co-director, added: “The implications of this discovery are immense. It is compelling evidence that this stretch of the River Avon was central to the religious lives of the people who built Stonehenge. Old theories about Stonehenge that do not explain the evident significance of the river will have to be re-thought.”

RTFA. Good photos. Inspiring work.