Last Wednesday, 29, experts from several British universities published a study in the magazine Science about the origin of Stonehenge megalithic stones. After years of not knowing the exact origin of the stones, they concluded that they are likely to come from West Wood, a forest area that is 24 km from Stonehenge, near the city of Marlborough.
English Heritage, a public non-profit heritage protection organization in the UK, tweeted about the discovery on its official website. “The results showed a better correspondence with a specific place (finally) revealing where, probably, the giant sandstone blocks come from …”, it can be read in the publication.
Until now, scientists suspected that the origin of the large stones in the Stonehenge structure, made up of predominant sandstone in the United Kingdom, could, in fact, originate in Marlborough Downs, a group of hills north of the monument. However, this location was “impossible to identify until then”, according to the declaration published on the English Heritage website.
The recent discovery was made possible after a piece of stone from the 1950s, missing from the monument, was returned to Florida's English heritage last year. Thus, scientists from several British universities, began to carry out the first tests in order to discover the true origin of the stones. For this, stones and the missing piece were analyzed, reaching the conclusion that the majority shared a similar composition, and originated in the same area. Then, the rocky outcrops of the areas between Norfolk and Devon counties were analyzed, in order to compare their chemical compositions with the samples of Stonehenge. The results showed the existence of a correspondence with West Woods, a forest area that is located about 40 minutes from the monument.
Despite the positive results of the discovery, there are still some unanswered questions. One of them is the existence of two stones that appear to have arisen from different areas than the rest of Stonehenge blocks. However, according to the study, “although this may be a coincidence, one possibility is that the presence of these blocks will mark the work of different communities of builders who have chosen to obtain their materials in a different area”.
Another question to consider is why the original Stonehenge builders chose to use West Woods blocks on the monument, since there were areas closer to this type of sandstone in the vicinity. However, scientists believe that this issue may be related to the size of the stones. “They (the builders) wanted the largest and most substantial stones they could find and it made sense to get them out as close as possible,” says historian Susan Greaney, one of the study's authors, in the statement by English Heritage.
Another mystery that remains unanswered has to do with the transportation of the stones and how they came so far to the monument site. According to the study, in order to develop an answer to this question, “further research is needed to decrease the exact location of the source in West Woods and to identify extraction wells from prehistoric sandstone blocks”.
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