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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A documentary on a Neolithic structure 20 times bigger than Stonehenge discovered by Uni of Bradford archaeologists to air on TV

The structure has been carbon-dated to around 2500BC in the New Stone Age period.

University of Bradford archaeologists who discovered a 2km-diameter Neolithic structure near Stonehenge will feature in a TV documentary due to be aired on the Discovery Science Channel and Channel 5.

The documentary chronicles the astonishing discovery of the Durrington Pits, a ring of prehistoric ‘shafts’ up to 10m across and 5m deep just a few miles away from Stonehenge.

Using non-invasive technology, the archaeologists at the University of Bradford uncovered one of the largest Neolithic structures in the world. Image: University of Bradford.

The mysterious construction, 20 times bigger than Stonehenge and possibly the largest Neolithic structure in the world, has been carbon-dated to 2500BC and appears to delineate a boundary around the ‘super henge’ at Durrington Walls and the famous site at Woodhenge.

Neolithic, also called New Stone Age, is the final stage of cultural evolution or technological development among prehistoric humans. In Western Europe, the Neolithic age spans from approximately4500 BC to 1700 BC.

It was characterized by stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, dependence on domesticated plants or animals, settlement in permanent villages, and the appearance of such crafts as pottery and weaving

Lead archaeologist on the project Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University of Bradford, said: “The recent work confirms that the circle of shafts surrounding Durrington walls is without precedent within the UK.

The team at the university published the discovery in 2015.

“It further demonstrates the significance of Durrington Walls Henge, the complexity of the monumental structures within the Stonehenge landscape, and provides a new insight into how the massive monuments at Durrington and Stonehenge were interlinked, in ways, and at a scale, that we had never previously anticipated.”

The discovery was first announced back in 2015 by The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project team from the university.

Using non-invasive and remote sensing technologies, the discovered evidence for a row of up to 100 standing stones, some of which may have originally measured up to 4.5 metres in height.

Many of these stones have survived because they were pushed over and the massive bank of the later henge raised over the recumbent stones or the pits in which they stood.

The two-hour special, presented by engineer Rob Bell,  will look at the motivation behind the construction of what appears to be the largest prehistoric monument of its kind in the world and why its discovery is redefining historians’ initial hypotheses about Neolithic society.

It will allow viewers to follow experts as they use cutting-edge technology to uncover the previously unknown subterranean ring and to learn why the discovery completely changes our understanding of the Stonehenge landscape and the people who built it.

Stonehenge: Land of the Dead will premiere on Science Channel on Sunday 28 November and on Channel 5 in the UK soon.

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