Massive yet mysterious prehistoric settlement discovered near the Stonehenge


Researchers at the Wessex Archaeology have uncovered a section of what encompassed a huge complex at Larkhill, just around 1.5 miles from the Stonehenge. Dating back more than 5,600 years, the complex is around 700-years older than Stonehenge itself, thus suggesting how the proximate Wiltshire region had a ritual significance to it. As for the physical nature of the discovery, the find termed as a ’causewayed enclosure’ boasted 650-ft in diameter, which comprises a massive area of 332,000 sq ft – equivalent of almost six American football fields! And on the inside, the enclosure consists of more than 3,100 ft of segmented ditches that are laid out in a pattern of two concentric circles.

Interestingly enough, the discovery was made just ahead of the construction of residential units of the Army Service. Martin Brown, archaeologist for WYG, the company that is heading the residential housing project, said –

These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular.

Now the question naturally arises – why is this ancient complex designated as a ’causewayed enclosure’ by experts? One of the primary reasons pertain to the framework of multiple causways that criss-cross the ditches dug inside the parameter. In fact, to that end, there are around 70 such causewayed enclosures spread across England, and yet archaeologists are not entirely sure of their purpose. The credible conjectures equate these complexes to temporary settlements where the prehistoric folks gathered to host their religious rites and ritualistic measures, while also scattering and burying the remains of their dead.

Relating to the latter scope, archaeologists have already found human skull fragments that allude to the ambit of burials within the sacred space. Additionally, the Larkhill complex contained pottery fragments (that were probably intentionally smashed) – thus suggesting ritualistic activities, along with roughly shaped flint stones and a stone-made hand-mill for grinding grain.

Lastly, as for now, researchers have been able excavate around 338-ft of the outer ditch, with the archaeologists still not sure about the exact preserved state of the original complex. Brown added –

The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit. They were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world.

Source: Seeker (Discovery News)

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