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All quiet on the front – the latest survey at Stonehenge has gone silent

19 December 2010

At www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1337890/ … it's all gone quiet on the geophysical survey around Stonehenge  which just a couple of months ago was all over the media. The Daily Mail may have a story that explains why – embarrassment. There was perhaps a bit of a gaff by Vince Gaffney, the project team leader. We were informed that a smaller version of Stonehenge, a wooden one, had been discovered just a few hundred yards away from the main monument – and the  media zoomed in and went big on the story. It seems that the initial enthusiasm may have been premature, Gaffney spiked by fellow archaeologist, Mike Pitts. The radar imaging process found a series of holes in a rough circle – and a series of pits about 3 feet wide. Gaffney went so far as to say it had been constructed 5000 years ago. Mike Pitts, on the other hand, consulted some old Ordnance Survey maps and found a fence at the same spot – surrounding a burial mound. It seems the post holes may be fairly recent and relate to a fence of some kind to protect the burial mound from the public, or from ploughing. Gaffney admits the post holes encircle a burial mound – but he claims the holes are too big for fence posts. I suppose it depends how tall the fence might have been or how clumsy the people were when the fence posts were rooted out of the ground. The pits are 3 feet across and 3 feet deep, quite substantial – which is what intrigued Gaffney. The geophysical survey is a three year project and presumably when something more substantial is found the media will be informed. 

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