Saturday, January 04, 2014

A link between Stonehenge and Orkney monument cultures

Science magazine has a pair of articles (and a segment in their weekly podcast) summarizing new interpretations of the Stonehenge site. I could not find a lay summary in English (German is here).
The extant Stonehenge is part of a repeatedly re-built burial complex, on a site that was evidently sacred for up to  6,000 years, predating the arrival of Neolithic culture in the area.
The new data suggest cultural connections linking the greater Stonehenge site to the Stones of Stenness
The Ring of Brodgar on Mainland, the largest 
of the Orkneys. 
Credit:Patrick Dieudonne/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis
and the Ring of Brodgar, structures in the Orkney islands which predate the major Stonehenge construction by several centuries. Michael Pearson has been excavating houses in Durrington Walls, a short distance from Stonehenge, which he believes housed the people who made both structures. The newly unearthed houses show construction methods identical to those used in far older buildings on the Orkneys. Combined with the similarity of
Neolithic sites around Stonehenge. 
the stone circles, the workers who built Stonehenge likely had at least familiarity with the older Orkney culture.
It has already been discovered that the cattle tended in the Durington Walls village came from Wales, and that artifacts in the barrows at Stonehenge come from as far away as the Italian Alps. So with people from the Orkneys in the mix, the emerging picture of the Stonehenge area is one of a very cosmopolitan meeting place. The Ring of Brogdar itself appears to be part of a vast complex and thus plausibly puts the Orkneys as the original heart of an interconnected Neolithic British culture.

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