Skip to comments.Stonehenge's huge support settlement
Posted on 11/05/2007 9:19:47 AM PST by Renfield
Archaeologists working near Stonehenge have uncovered what they believe is the largest Neolithic settlement ever discovered in Northern Europe.
Remains of an estimated 300 houses are thought to survive under earthworks 3km (2 miles) from the famous stone rings, and 10 have been excavated so far.
But there could have been double that total according to the archaeologist leading the work.
"What is really exciting is realising just how big the village for the Stonehenge builders was," says Professor Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University.
Allowing four per house, he estimates there could have been room for more than 2,000 people.
Join the party
Analysis of the houses has also showed that some were higher status than others. This is the first evidence for social difference and hierarchy at the time of Stonehenge, indicating that the organisation of labour for moving and raising the stones was not egalitarian.
The settlement is buried beneath the bank of Durrington Walls, a great circular ditched enclosure.
Durrington Walls holds clues to the Stonehenge story
Geophysical survey and excavation work have revealed that the ditch and bank had been constructed in large sections, probably by separate work gangs.
A find of dozens of antler picks in one section of ditch gives some idea of the size of these work parties.
"From the number of antler picks left in the bottom of one section - 57 - if you allow two people with one pick plus a team of basketeers carrying the rubble away and you've got to have the sandwich makers as well.
"This suggests a minimum team size of 200. If the 22 sections of Durrington's ditch were all dug at the same time, that's a work force of thousands."
The settlement beneath Durrington Walls dates from around the time of the construction of Stonehenge's sarsen stones, about 2600 to 2500 BC.
For Mike Parker Pearson, the new evidence throws an important light on how Neolithic society worked - how people organised themselves to build mega-structures.
Apply this to Stonehenge, and he believes there were groups of about 200-400 people working under a clan head, responsible for completing individual sections of the overall monument.
"It's possible that most of Southern Britain may have been involved at one stage or another," Parker Pearson says.
Other evidence from cow and pig bones found on the site suggests that people were coming into the area on a seasonal basis.
"This was a temporary settlement," he says. "They were not doing basic daily chores, not grinding corn, not raising animals. There were no baby pigs and cows. It looks like the livestock had been brought in."
And there is also evidence of feasting at Durrington Neolithic village such as bones still connected together.
"This is the sort of thing you are expecting at feasting occasions - discarded but still-edible joints of meat - when everyone has got enough to eat."
So far, only a fraction of the area has been excavated
The team has also found a tantalising artefact: a piece of chalk with cut marks that Parker Pearson believes was made by a copper axe.
He is not surprised at the evidence - as copper working in neighbouring parts of mainland Europe dates back to 3000 BC - but it would be the first evidence from Britain before 2400 BC.
The theory is also supported by the almost total absence of evidence of stone or flint axes in the village.
The current excavations at Stonehenge began four years ago and are part of a 10-year project.
(It only makes sense to have a village or earthworks nearby - the workers were NOT going to be left in the open.)
Two miles (30 minutes walk each day) is bit further than I would expect though.
Tests Reveal Amesbury Archer
‘King Of Stonehenge’ Was A Settler From The Alps
Popular Science | 2-8-2004
Posted on 02/08/2004 3:40:04 PM EST by blam
The Untold Mystery of Stonehenge
Posted on 12/03/2004 8:56:17 PM EST by Starhubbler
[snip] Irish tradition has it that Stonehenge was built by Blacks from Africa. This may seem unbelievable at first. However, Irish tradition mentions the Formorians, Black giants who came from Africa. Anyone can easily check on the Formorians. Scottish historian David MacRitchie, and English Egyptologist Gerald Massey have all claimed in their works that Blacks were the original inhabitants of the British Isles and that the Tuatha De Danaan and Firbolgs all belonged to the Black race. [end]
Mystery Man Of Stonehenge
Smithsonian | 7-28-2005 | Doug Stern
Posted on 07/28/2005 7:13:48 PM EDT by blam
Ancient Stonehenge Houses Unearthed
Discovery Channel | 10-13-2006 | Jennifer Viegas
Posted on 10/14/2006 3:29:58 PM EDT by blam
Stonehenge Didn’t Stand Alone, Excavations Show
National Geographic | 1-12-2007 | James Owen
Posted on 01/13/2007 6:00:37 PM EST by blam
Stonehenge Builders’ Houses Found
BBC | 1-30-2007
Posted on 01/30/2007 11:13:43 AM EST by blam
Houses Found Buried Beneath Stonehenge Site
The Washington Post | January 30, 2007 | Marc Kaufman
Posted on 01/30/2007 3:55:42 PM EST by RDTF
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One of my all-time favorite movies! I laughed so hard I sparked a coughing fit that scared the dog, LOL!
“This is the first evidence for social difference and hierarchy at the time of Stonehenge, indicating that the organisation of labour for moving and raising the stones was not egalitarian”
I guess politicians are an old species much like sharks and haven’t evolved in millinia either.
The Tuatha de Dana'an were little dark people who lived underground? Hobbits?
Hi ho, hi ho... they could have been from the Americas AFA that description goes. :’)
“A find of dozens of antler picks in one section of ditch gives some idea of the size of these work parties”
No doubt this was the result of a wildcat strike by a clan over a breach in union rules. They all dropped their antlers and went home.
I didn’t recognize it - title please?
The title is “This is Spinal Tap”, more well-known as “Spinal Tap”. It is a mock documentary (mockumentary) of a down-at-its-heels rock group trying to stage a comeback, and is satire at its finest! The Stonehenge reference is because one of the group’s most popular songs in the past featured a replica of Stonehenge. In the movie, they wanted a Stonehenge replica, but someone got the dimensions wrong, and it ended up being only 18 inches high, and they were totally embarassed. Hilarious!
Thank you both so much!
Unless their “egalatarian work parties” were much different than any I’m familiar with, the complexity, precision, shear enormity, and STATE OF COMPLETION of the complex are evidence enough for “social difference and hierarchy”.
Also, unless he’s finding copper & other tools, I don’t see how absence of stone tools proves or disproves anything. It was a TEMPORARY village; when they last left, wouldn’t they clean out anything useable or recyclable? Just based on what I still have laying around in the barn & garage ‘just in case I need it’...despite having broken it or lost an obsolete part a couple of moves back.
Also, isn’t 10 out of 300 to 600 houses an awfully small sample to be drawing major generalizations from?
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