The wonderful and enigmatic Stonehenge. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. And guess what? It was a crematoria – It’s official.
Well sort of, but it was certainly a post cremation grave for the ashes of VIPs, forensic archaeologists have been examining more than 50,000 cremated bone fragments, from 63 individuals buried at Stonehenge, whether the ashes where produced there or just buried there article does not reveal.
However what we can tell is the carbon dating indicates that the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form, when there was only one circle (which is the inner circle now). And the Dating the bones has pushed back the date of earliest stone circle at the site from 2500BC to 3000BC. What is also apparent for the first time is that where it was thought just men ashes were buried there the analysis shows the remains include almost equal numbers of men and women, and children including a baby.
“At the moment the answer is no to extracting DNA, which might tell us more about these individuals and what the relationship was between them – but who knows in the future? Clearly these were special people in some way,” Parker Pearson (Professor who leads the team) said.
Mike Pitts, an archaeologist, blogger and editor of the British Archaeology journal, who has excavated some of the cremated human remains from Stonehenge, says the cremation burial theory shows more work is needed “I have now come to believe that there are hundreds, maybe many times that, of burials at Stonehenge, and that some predate the earliest phase of the monument,” Pitts said. “The whole history of the monument is inseparably linked to death and burial – but I believe that there are hundreds more burials to be found across the site, which will tell us more of the story.”
Almost all the prehistoric human remains come from the eastern side of the circle, and many had been excavated by earlier archaeologists including William Hawley in the 1920s, who regarding them as unimportant compared with the giant stones, reburied them jumbled together using one of the Aubrey holes as a convenient pit.
“There must be more, in the western quadrant, or buried outside the enclosure ditch. A new excavation could clinch it,” Pitts said.
I will keep you updated as more information come to light.