Stonehenge Was An Ancient Burial Ground For the Rich: Study

by Elizabeth Howell on April 27, 2013

Stonehenge. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Stonehenge. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The site of Stonehenge — that mysterious collection of British rocks that could have served as a calendar using the stars — was also a graveyard for the elite, according to new research.

A British group led by the University College London looked at 63 bodies surrounding the historical site. They determined these people were part of a group of elite families that brought their relatives to Stonehenge for burial over more than 200 years, starting from 2,900 BC.

The bodies were buried long before the rocks visible today were erected, though.

“The first Stonehenge began its life as a huge graveyard,” stated UCL’s Parker Pearson, who led the study. “The original monument was a large circular enclosure built 500 years before the Stonehenge we know today, with the remains of many of the cremated bodies originally marked by the bluestones of Stonehenge. We have also discovered that the second Stonehenge was built 200 years earlier than thought, around 2500 BC.”

The findings were broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 in March.

A separate study, that will be broadcast on BBC 4 Monday (April 29), shows that humans were in the area of Stonehenge about 3,000 years before it was constructed — making human occupancy about 5,000 years than previously thought.

According to media reports, a team from the United Kingdom’s Open University spotted evidence of human activity about a mile from Stonehenge, in nearby Amesbury.

Archaeologists found an extinct species of cow, called a wild auroch, on the site as well, supposing that it was some sort of migration route that attracted human hunters.

Source: University College London

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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