William also sent in a link to www.yahoo.com/news/prehistoric-monument-discovered-near-stonehenge-14142… … near as in a longish walk up the hill to Durrington Walls neolithic site – which overlooks the river Avan (rather, one of the rivers Avon as there are several). Comes with a nice short video. See aso www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-53132567 … and best of all, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-lies-beneath-stonehenge-180952437/ … and the big find is a ring of large shafts that form a circle around Durrington Walls huge earthwork. The builders of Stonehenge appear to have stayed here for at least a number of weeks if not months or years, as they left behind evidence of feasting (lots of pig and cattle bones). These are really big pits although they had vertical sides suggesting some precision digging was involved with a specific purpose, currently unknown. The BBC takes us straightaway into a ritualistic interpretation. Was it a boundary, a barrier erected around a sacred area. No. It was a series of holes in the ground. The circle is also big, some 2km in diameter, or 1.2 miles. The shafts were 30 feet across and 15 feet deep. They have yet to be excavated in a proper manner. One may wonder why nobody in recent history has fallen into one of the holes – but even if they had would it have reached national news channels. Some of the holes are quite close to a military base at Larkhill barracks and you would have thought the odd enebriated squaddie might have had a mishap, but no. It seems some of the pits, or shafts, were known about but interpreted as natural or possibly as small quarries. Chalk was often quarried to put on fields which were dominated by clay but chalk is the basic bedrock in Wiltshire and the clay and flints is far away to the east. Hence, the assumption they were natural holes in the ground is telling us they had been infilled also, naturally. They seem to have accumulated silt over the centuries as a result of heavy rain and frost etc. Not full to the rim of course, but enought to disguise the depth. Durrington Walls is 2 miles distant from Stonehenge but it has become clear that the landscape surrounding the monument was well used in the prehistoric past, contrary to what historians and archaeologists had believed prior to the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project. The pits were discovered by remote sensing technology as explained by professor Gaffney of Bradford University. He said the discovery demonstrated 'the capacity and drive of Neolithic communities to record their cosmological belief systems in ways, and on a scale, we have never previously anticipated …'. Although the whole area around Stonehenge has been much studied and researched the application of a new technology has led to a new discovery of a massive prehistoric structure. As yet, the dates are not forthcoming.
… The pits had vertical walls and were infilled with silt over a long period of time. The Smithsonian link is the most informative as it goes on to outline some of the finds of the project. Vince Gaffney has been involved in a lot of other archaeological discoveries, and so has his brother, both archaeologists it would seem. This includes the submerged landscape of the southern basin of the North Sea – another project that is still ongoing. Not only that he is not sceptical of cosmological connections it would seem, a welcome point of view since the suppression and demonisation of Alexander Thom back in the day. Archaeoastronomy has been virtually a no go area for the bread and butter archaeologists which has led to some peculiar theories about Stonehenge. Hopefully, an assessment of all possibilities will come back into vogue. Archaeoastronomy has thrived elsewhere but not in Britain. It has been extremely muted. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has been going on for four years or so, a collaboration with German archaeologists that have all the latest equipment (presumably developed in Germany).
The Smithsonian piece also gives us some history of Gaffney and his brother and catalogues some of the discoveries of the project.