Archaeologists have discovered huge stone monoliths they believe could have been part of the largest Neolithic monument built in Britain just under 3km from Stonehenge.
The discovery was made by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, comprised of members from the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro). The team have been creating an underground map of the area using remote sensors and geophysical imaging technology.
Nearly 100 stones, some measuring up to 4.5m in length, were discovered under 3ft of earth at Durrington Walls. Archaeologists believe the 4500 year-old stones were been deliberately toppled over, with the bank of the later Durrington Walls, now dubbed “Superhenge” built over them.
The stones are believed to be sarsen stone, a kind of sandstone found locally and the same as the largest stones in the Stonehenge stone circle. Another fallen sarsen stone, The Cuckoo Stone, remains a the field next to Durrington Walls.
It is thought the monoliths lined an arena that may have been used for religious rites or solstice rituals.
Wolfgang Neubauer, director of the LBI ArchPro, said the monument could originally have comprised up to 200 stones. “The missing stones might be the stone material which was used later on to build Stonehenge,” he said, adding that those left in place may have been broken during attempts to move them.
Lead researcher Vince Gaffney, of the University of Bradford, said: “We don’t think there’s anything quite like this anywhere else in the world. This is completely new and the scale is extraordinary.”
Archaeologist Nick Snashall said: “The presence of what appear to be stones, surrounding the site of one of the largest Neolithic settlements in Europe adds a whole new chapter to the Stonehenge story.”
LBI ArchPro have created a CGI impression of what the Durrington Walls monoliths may have looked like more than 4,500 years ago. Watch below.