Origins of Stonehenge’s giant slabs revealed in new research

The mystery of where Stonehenge's giant slabs came from may now be solved Photo: Sally Wilson

Scientists at the University of Brighton say they have cracked one of archaeologys greatest mysteries—how the the huge sarsen (sandstone) slabs that make up Stonehenge in Wiltshire ended up at the ancient site.

The stone megaliths—52 in total—make up Stonehenges outer ring and centre (there were 80 originally). The new research reveals that the sarsens—which can weigh up to 30 tons and measure 7m—could have been transported by ancient builders from West Woods, an area 15 miles north of the site near Marlborough, around 2,500 BC. The findings were published earlier this week in the journal Science Advances. David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton, led the research.

Previous analyses have determined that the sarsen stones came from north Wiltshire. But the current research effort was boosted after a man who had worked on the site in 1958 returned a cylindrical core that he had taken from one of the standing stones to English Heritage, which oversees the prehistoric site.

The man in question, former diamond cutter Robert Phillips, was working on a restoration project at Stonehenge in 1958 when archaeologists helped to re-erect a displaced standing stone. The core sample was removed when Phillips and his team drilled a hole to insert metal bolt supports. Scientists were subsequently given a rare opportunity to analyse a sample from Stonehenge (drilling for exploratory material is now prohibited at the site).


We FINALLY (almost certainly…) know where Stonehenge's giant sarsen stones come from!


— English Heritage (@EnglishHeritage) July 29, 2020

The researchers carried out x-ray fluorescence testing on the monolithic stone pieces, creating a “geochemical fingerprint” of the monuments sarsen structures. They then analysed sarsens from 20 sites across southern England; crucially, the chemical composition of stones in West Woods matched all but two of the Stonehenge pieces. “We finally (almost certainly) know where Stonehenges giant sarsen stones come from!” tweeted English Heritage.

“Why, in a region with the greatest density Read More – Source

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