Researchers: Stonehenge Started As Huge Graveyard - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Researchers: Stonehenge Started As Huge Graveyard

Posted: Updated:

LONDON (AP) - British researchers have proposed a new theory for the origins of Stonehenge: It may have started as a giant burial ground for elite families around 3,000 B.C.

New studies of cremated human remains excavated from the site suggest that about 500 years before the Stonehenge we know today was built, a larger stone circle was erected at the same site as a community graveyard, researchers said Saturday.

"These were men, women, children, so presumably family groups," University College London professor Mike Parker Pearson, who led the team, said. "We'd thought that maybe it was a place where a dynasty of kings was buried, but this seemed to be much more of a community, a different kind of power structure."

Parker Pearson said archeologists studied the cremated bones of 63 individuals, and believed that they were buried around 3,000 B.C. The location of many of the cremated bodies was originally marked by bluestones, he said. That earlier circular enclosure, which measured around 300 feet (91 meters) across, could have been the burial ground for about 200 more people, Parker Pearson said.

The team, which included academics from more than a dozen British universities, also put forth some theories about the purpose of the second Stonehenge — the monument still standing in the countryside in southern England today.

Various theories have been proposed about Stonehenge, including that it was a place for Druid worship, an observatory for astronomical studies, or a place of healing, built by early inhabitants of Britain who roamed around with their herds.

Parker Pearson said the latest study suggested that Stonehenge should be seen less a temple of worship than a kind of building project that served to unite people from across Britain.

Analysis of the remains of a Neolithic settlement near the monument indicated that thousands of people traveled from as far as Scotland to the site, bringing their livestock and families for huge feasts and celebrations during the winter and summer solstices.

The team studied the teeth of pigs and cattle found at the "builders' camp," and deduced that the animals were mostly slaughtered around nine months or 15 months after their spring births. That meant they were likely eaten in feasts during the midwinter and midsummer, Parker Pearson said.

"We don't think (the builders) were living there all the time. We could tell that by when they were killing the pigs — they were there for the solstices," he said.

The researchers believe that the builders converged seasonally to build Stonehenge, but not for very long — likely over a period of a decade or so.

The mass monument building is thought to end around the time when the "Beaker people," so called because of their distinctive pottery, arrived from continental Europe, Parker Pearson said.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • LOOKING FOR A HOME? 10 Homes For Sale In Spokane For $125,000

    LOOKING FOR A HOME? 10 Homes For Sale In Spokane For $125,000

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 1:39 PM EDT2014-04-15 17:39:53 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spring is a popular time to purchase and sell a home. Here are 10 homes for sale in Spokane for $125,000. These homes were found on www.WindermereSpokane.com. If you would like more information on any of these homes or would like to schedule a tour, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spring is a popular time to purchase and sell a home. Here are 10 homes for sale in Spokane for $125,000. These homes were found on www.WindermereSpokane.com. If you would like more information on any of these homes or would like to schedule a tour, contact your real estate agent with the correct MLS number.>>
  • UPDATE: PHOTOS Of Sex Offenders Who Live In Kootenai County

    UPDATE: PHOTOS Of Sex Offenders Who Live In Kootenai County

    Wednesday, February 26 2014 6:50 AM EST2014-02-26 11:50:17 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Do you know who lives next to you, or in your neighborhood? KHQ has teamed up with local law enforcement agencies to keep you updated on sex offenders that may be living close to you. The latest photos are from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office website. All of the offenders have served their time and are not wanted by authorities.>>
    KHQ.COM - Do you know who lives next to you, or in your neighborhood? KHQ has teamed up with local law enforcement agencies to keep you updated on sex offenders that may be living close to you. The latest photos are from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office website.>>
  • Toddler Gets Stuck Inside Claw Machine

    Toddler Gets Stuck Inside Claw Machine

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 9:54 AM EDT2014-04-16 13:54:15 GMT
    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say a toddler has been reunited with his mother after employees found him playing inside a claw crane machine at a Nebraska bowling alley.>>
    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say a toddler has been reunited with his mother after employees found him playing inside a claw crane machine at a Nebraska bowling alley.
    >>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • BREAKING UPDATE: Nearly 300 Missing In Ferry Disaster; Most Of The Passengers Are High School Students

    BREAKING UPDATE: Nearly 300 Missing In Ferry Disaster; Most Of The Passengers Are High School Students

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:17 PM EDT2014-04-16 17:17:03 GMT
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Officials in South Korea say nearly 300 people are still missing several hours after a ferry sank in the cold waters off the country's southern coast. At least two people are confirmed dead, but there are fears of a much bigger death toll as dozens of boats, helicopters and divers continue to search for survivors.>>
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Officials in South Korea say nearly 300 people are still missing several hours after a ferry sank in the cold waters off the country's southern coast. At least two people are confirmed dead, but there are fears of a much bigger death toll as dozens of boats, helicopters and divers continue to search for survivors.
    >>
  • UPDATE: Biden: Boston Marathon Survivors Are Inspiration

    UPDATE: Biden: Boston Marathon Survivors Are Inspiration

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:21 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:21:34 GMT
    BOSTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden says the courage shown by Boston Marathon survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy.>>
    BOSTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden says the courage shown by Boston Marathon survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy.>>
  • Cattle Battle: BLM To Pursue Effort To End Dispute With Rancher

    Cattle Battle: BLM To Pursue Effort To End Dispute With Rancher

    Monday, April 14 2014 10:08 AM EDT2014-04-14 14:08:14 GMT
    NEVADA, (AP) - A day after blinking in a showdown on the range, federal land managers pledged to pursue efforts to resolve a conflict with a southern Nevada rancher who has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Craig Leff said Sunday that the agency would continue to try to resolve the matter.>>
    NEVADA, (AP) - A day after blinking in a showdown on the range, federal land managers pledged to pursue efforts to resolve a conflict with a southern Nevada rancher who has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Craig Leff said Sunday that the agency would continue to try to resolve the matter.
    >>