Over the course of the last six years a team of archaeologists from across Europe led by Professor Vince Gaffney of Bradford University have been carrying out a series of cutting-edge geophysical surveys across an area approaching 10 square kilometres in the Stonehenge landscape.
They’ve made dozens of new discoveries, some of them entirely new sites. But one of the most astonishing things they’ve found is that something – in fact a whole series of somethings – lie buried beneath the 4,500 year old bank of Durrington Walls henge. Their surveys revealed an arc of large solid anomalies, some over two metres long. But the question was what were they?
There was only one way to find out and that was to dig. Which is why the combined forces of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, the Hidden Landscapes team and the National Trust are digging at Durrington Walls this August.
At the start of our dig our best guesses were that they could be one of two things.
- they might be the remains of standing stones – now lying flat OR
- they might be pits dug to hold giant timber posts but then backfilled, similar to some unearthed by Professor Mike Parker Pearson and the multi-university Stonehenge Riverside Project near the southern entrance of the henge.
The work has progressed incredibly quickly and we’ve already been able to answer the first part of our conundrum. We have what appears to be one very definite pit (in the picture above) and another taking shape on the opposite side of the trench.
Right next to the pit lay an antler tine. It needs to be cleaned and studied more closely but it may be the tip of an antler pick – and could be one of the tools used to dig the pit itself. Our dig team have been going great guns with their modern steel pick axes – I’m not sure they would be so quite so keen if they had to use one of these. But our henge builders were made of sterner stuff – the whole of the massive henge bank and ditch was dug with antler picks.