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    Radical discovery: Stonehenge 'teeming with chapels and shrines' | Science | The Guardian

    Researchers find hundreds of archaeological treasures around neolithic standing stones, transforming view of historic area

    Stonehenge stood at the heart of a sprawling landscape of chapels, burial mounds, massive pits and ritual shrines, according to an unprecedented survey of the ancient grounds.

    Researchers uncovered 17 new chapels and hundreds of archaeological features around the neolithic standing stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, including forms of monuments that have never been seen before.

    Brought together for the first time in a digital map of the historic site, the discoveries transform how archaeologists view a landscape that was reshaped by generations for hundreds of years after the first stones were erected around 3100BC.

    "This radically changes our view of Stonehenge," said Vince Gaffney, head of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project at Birmingham University. "In the past we had this idea that Stonehenge was standing in splendid isolation, but it wasn't it's absolutely huge."

    He added that around Stonehenge people created "their own shrines and temples. We can see the whole landscape is being used in very complex ways".

    The finds follow the discovery, made public early this month, that the monument was originally circular. Researchers said that an insufficiently long hosepipe might have helped them solve one of the enduring mysteries of Stonehenge: whether the monument was originally built as a full circle or a C-shape.

    stonehenge4 011 - Stonehenge: New discoveries

    The hosepipe was used to water grass around the stones, but when it failed to reach parts of the monument patches of brown began to appear. Tim Daw, who helps to maintain the site, noticed that the patches matched spots where missing stones may have stood, making Stonehenge a full circle. The discovery has prompted a fresh mystery around what happened to the missing stones.

    Researchers on the surrounding landscape project spent four years surveying 12 sq km of land around Stonehenge. Much of the ground they covered on quad bikes hooked up to trailers carrying an array of technologies to detect structures hidden beneath the ground.

    Using ground-penetrating radar and other equipment, they located two massive pits in a 3km-long monument called the Cursus that predates Stonehenge and lies to the north. The pits appear to form astronomical alignments, Gaffney said. On midsummer's day the eastern pit's alignment with the rising sun, and the western pit's alignment at sunset, intersect at the point where Stonehenge was built 400 years later.
    BBC News - Stonehenge secrets revealed by underground map

     77471321 77471320 - Stonehenge: New discoveries

    Archaeologists have unveiled the most detailed map ever produced of the earth beneath Stonehenge and its surrounds.

    They combined different instruments to scan the area to a depth of three metres, with unprecedented resolution.

    Early results suggest that the iconic monument did not stand alone, but was accompanied by 17 neighbouring shrines.

    Future, detailed analysis of this vast collection of data will produce a brand new account of how Stonehenge's landscape evolved over time.

    Among the surprises yielded by the research are traces of up to 60 huge stones or pillars which formed part of the 1.5km-wide "super henge" previously identified at nearby Durrington Walls.

    "For the past four years we have been looking at this amazing monument to try and see what was around it," Prof Vincent Gaffney, from the University of Birmingham, said at the British Science Festival.

    "What was within its landscape?"

    Most of the land surrounding Stonehenge had not been surveyed in this manner before and Prof Gaffney, the project's lead researcher, said one key question always remained: "Was it really an excluded place, where only special people would come?"

    The team's new three-dimensional map, which covers an area of 12 sq km or 1,250 football fields, shows that this was not the case.

    Researchers used six different techniques to scan the whole site at different depths below the surface.

    Amongst their instruments was a magnetometer, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and a 3D laser scanner.

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