Durrington Walls Dig

In early August 2016 preparations were underway in the Stonehenge half of the World Heritage Site to excavate a small area of the arc of anomalies under the turf that caused such a media sensation in September 2015: https://ntarchaeostonehengeaveburywhs.wordpress.com/2015/09/.

From 2011 to 2015, as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, non-invasive geophysical surveys were conducted all over the World Heritage Site, including at the Late Neolithic henge* of Durrington Walls, one of the largest in the country. The results showed an arc of dozens of anomalies stretching out underneath the henge bank and this has given rise to varying interpretations.

Durrington Walls at the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire.

Durrington Walls Henge, Wiltshire                                 ©National Trust Images/John Miller

The obvious question was, ‘What are they?’ Two major possibilities came to the fore: they could have been huge stones buried under what was once the  immense bank of the henge. Or  they might have been vast  postholes intended to contain timbers, unused and filled with tightly packed midden material and chalk, then later overlain by the bank.

A strong case was put forward for both of these theories and in August 2016 a collaborative research project between the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, the Stonehenge Riverside Project and the National Trust set out to discover the true identity of the anomalies.

By mid-August we had the answer to the question of what they were and could start to ask ourselves the even more perplexing question – why?

Take a look at our blog for  the first 2 weeks in August 2016 to find out what the dig team unearthed .

* A henge is a circular or sub-circular earthwork with between one and four entrances where the bank is external to an internal ditch. The momentous construction of Durrington Walls Henge took place around 4500 years ago in the Late Neolithic (or New Stone Age). Other large Late Neolithic henges in the area include Avebury Henge and Marden Henge.

The Team

Project leads

Professor Vince Gaffney (University of Bradford)
Professor Mike Parker Pearson (UCL)

Directors

Dr Henry Chapman (University of Birmingham)
Dr Paul Garwood (University of Birmingham)
Dr Klaus Löcker (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology)
Professor Wolfgang Neubauer (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology)
Professor Alistair Pike (University of Southampton)
Dr Josh Pollard (University of Southampton)
Professor Colin Richards (University of Manchester)
Dr Nick Snashall (National Trust)
Professor Julian Thomas (University of Manchester)
Professor Kate Welham (University of Bournemouth)

Plus

and our fantastic team of National Trust Volunteer Guides!

Links

Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project:
http://lbi-archpro.org/cs/stonehenge/ http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2014/09/stonehenge-hlp-gallery.aspx

Stonehenge Riverside Project: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/archaeology/research/2.4329/stonehenge01
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/research/directory/stones-of-stonehenge-parkerpearson

 

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