Stonehenge – a long-term cemetery or neolithic ‘Lourdes’?
(Photo credit: www.activemind.com)
A topical article for me as I will be passing Stonehenge today. It is an amazing feat of 4,500 year old primitive engineering and still provokes feelings of wonder and awe everytime I pass by, especially on solstice and equinox days.
Stonehenge served as a burial ground for much longer than had previously been believed, new research suggests. The site was used as a cemetery for 500 years, from the point of its inception.
Archaeologists have said the cremation burials found at the site might represent a single elite family and its descendents – perhaps a ruling dynasty.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from the department of archaeology at the University of Sheffield, and his colleagues have now carried out radiocarbon dating of burials excavated in the 1950s that were kept at the nearby Salisbury Museum. Their results suggest burials took place at the site from the initiation of Stonehenge, just after 3,000 BC, until the time the large stones appear at about 2,500 BC.
However, two other Stonehenge experts, Professor Tim Darvill, from the University of Bournemouth, and Professor Geoff Wainwright, from the Society of Antiquaries, have a different theory about the monument.
They are convinced that the dominating feature on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, UK was akin to a “Neolithic Lourdes” – a place where people went on a pilgrimage to get cured.
They recently carried out a two-week excavation at the site to search for clues to why the 4,500-year-old landmark was erected.
Elaine Warburton www.geneticsandhealth.com