Monday, 31 March 2008

First dig inside Stonehenge for nearly 40 years gets underway

Timewatch are following this one and releasing footage to their website on a daily basis. The BBC link carries an animated reconstruction from the program. The title 'Stonehenge - the healing stones' is an indication that the programme is going down the 'Stonehenge as hospital' route espoused by Professors Timothy Darvil and Geoff Wainright so should be worth a watch. The programme makers promise that the mystery of Stonehenge will finally be revealed. Again.
The Timewatch site is here, and packed with goodies about the dig, which I will be reminding you of every time new material appears. The BBC news story is below.

From BBC Sci/Tech.

The first excavation inside the ring at Stonehenge in more than four decades gets under way on Monday.

The two-week dig will try to establish, once and for all, some precise dating for the creation of the monument.

It is also targeting the significance of the smaller bluestones that stand inside the giant sarsen pillars.

Researchers believe these rocks, brought all the way from Wales, hold the secret to the real purpose of Stonehenge as a place of healing.

The excavation at the 4,500-year-old UK landmark is being funded by the BBC. The work will be filmed for a special Timewatch programme to be broadcast in the autumn.

'Magical stones'

The researchers leading the project are two of the UK's leading Stonehenge experts - Professor Tim Darvill, of the University of Bournemouth, and Professor Geoff Wainwright, of the Society of Antiquaries.

They are convinced that the dominating feature on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire was akin to a "Neolithic Lourdes" - a place where people went on a pilgrimage to get cured.

Some of the evidence supporting this theory comes from the dead, they say.

A significant proportion of the newly discovered Neolithic remains show clear signs of skeletal trauma. Some had undergone operations to the skull, or had walked with a limp, or had broken bones.

Modern techniques have established that many of these people had clearly travelled huge distances to get to south-west England, suggesting they were seeking supernatural help for their ills.

But Darvill and Wainwright have also traced the bluestones - the stones in the centre of Stonehenge - to the exact spot they came from in the Preseli hills, 250km away in the far west of Wales.

Full story here.

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