The nearest megalithic circle in Stonehenge It was first built in West Wales over 5,000 years ago, before its stones were excavated and dragged over 140 miles (225 kilometers) to their current location in the west of England, according to new research.
The results also support a wild myth that the legendary wizard Merlin ordered giants to move Stonehenge from Ireland and rebuild it on its current location.
Researchers have discovered remains of the original stone circle in the Priscilly Hills of Wales, near ancient quarries where geologists have located the famous Stonehenge cutters. The new study was published Thursday (February 11) in the journal Antiquity, Indicates that the blue stones that formed the first stage of Stonehenge may have symbolized the ancestors or lineages of people from the Neolithic period who lived near the quarries, and this was probably the reason they took the stones with them when they left for a distant region.
The research could explain the mysterious origins of Stonehenge and why early builders made such efforts to move the massive stones roughly halfway across Britain. “I had a hunch,” said Michael Parker-Pearson, the archaeologist at University College London who led the team that made the discovery. Why would anyone say, ‘We’re going to build a circle with stones from a quarry 140 miles away? “
To solve this mystery, Parker Pearson and his team spent more than five years investigating the Neolithic monuments around the Priscilly Hills. In 2017, they determined that four stones at a site called Waun Mawn – “My Home Swamp” in Wales – were all that was left of a much larger 60-stone circle that perfectly matched the original 360-foot (110 m) circle of Blue Stones in Stonehenge. Parker Pearson told Live Science that the rest of the stones at Wuan Mawn were excavated long ago.
Stonehenge is famous for the giant “sarsons” in its main circle, but these large stones were erected centuries after the monument was first built. Recent research shows that sarsans are rocks from local sandstones that were transported only a few miles away to the Neolithic monument about 4,500 years ago.
But geologists and archaeologists have known for a long time that many of the blue stones surrounding Stonehenge, some weighing up to 5 tons (4.5 metric tons), were transported in ancient times from quarries in the Priscilly Hills. Some stones have a blue tinge when broken or freshly wet.
The researchers said that the scientific history of coal and sediments taken from some of the empty stone holes indicate that Won Maun was built about 5400 years ago, about 400 years before the first stage of Stonehenge. One of the stone holes in the Waun Mawn also has an unusual five-sided cross-section that matches one of the stonehenge’s blue stones and contains segments of the same type of rock.
Parker Pearson said it was likely that the Waun Mawn Stone Circle and some other nearby stones were dismantled when entire families left the area to live further east, and that as many as 80 of the stones were subsequently erected at the current Stonehenge site.
The distinct levels of strontium isotopes in human tooth enamel found in ancient tombs at Stonehenge show that many of the first people buried there did not grow near their current location in Wessex. He said archaeological evidence indicates that they migrated from the West, possibly from modern Wales, and thus the original stone circle may have marked the site of a new Neolithic cemetery.
Each of the blue stones, he said, may symbolize a prominent ancestor or ancestral lineage of the locals, which is why they erected the stones in the new tomb.
Researchers are unsure why so many Neolithic families suddenly leave the Priscilly Hills to live so far away. Parker Pearson believes that their community may have wanted to unite for political or social reasons with a distant group of people, and so they brought their ancestral stones with them to reinforce their presence in their new area.
Accounts of the employment involved in transporting the Blue Stones, possibly by sledge, indicate that the journey from Waun Mawn to the present Stonehenge site would have been completed in one summer.
“You can go 3 miles [5 km] He said, “On the day, if you’ve made your own path. Maybe they feasted, food and drink … just like a rejuvenating party that goes from place to place.”
Like Stonehenge, the circle at Waun Mawn has been aligned so that some of its stones line up as the sun rises on the summer solstice; He said similar alignments were found in other Neolithic relics across the British Isles, and could reflect the eternal pattern of the sun’s movement in the sky.
The idea of building Stonehenge for the first time from a circle of stones transported from a distance very much resembles a medieval legend built by order of Merlin, the legendary wizard who helped the mythical king himself Arthur.
According to legend, the stone circle was originally located in Africa, and giants transported it to Ireland to serve as a magical center for healing. Later, legend has it, Merlin had giants transporting stones to the present site at Salisbury Plain and reassembling them there as a memorial to the British who were killed while fighting the Saxon invaders.
Parker Pearson said that when the legend was codified in the 12th century, Far West Wales was considered part of Ireland; But it was unlikely that the legend described a 5,000-year-old folk memory of the Stonehenge transmission – it is estimated that the earliest known oral dates, the Sanskrit Veda from India, are estimated to be only 3,000 years old. “But I have to admit that the evidence is very interesting,” he said. “Maybe – just maybe – there’s a tiny iota of truth in it.”
Originally published on Live Science.