Friday, February 23, 2007

Short Friday Archaeology Blogging
Return to Stonehenge edition!

A few weeks back, we mentioned the new discoveries at the site of Stonehenge. Well, it turns out that the workers' village wasn't the only thing they discovered (and much thanks to Alison from Creekside for the heads-up on this one):

Wooden counterpart of Stonehenge found
Second temple seen as counterpart to famous monoliths


In a teleconference conducted by the National Geographic Society, Parker Pearson said a circle of ditches and earthen banks at Durrington Walls enclosed concentric rings of huge timber posts, "basically a wooden version of Stonehenge," he said.

So, why two henges? Well, Stonehenge itself (the famous one) was itself originally constructed of wood and earthworks, approximately 1,000 years before the immense stone blocks were brought in.

An early phase at Stonehenge

It is not a stretch to suppose that the construction of the stone structure would have interfered with any rituals that had to take place at the site, and I think it entirely possible that this wooden henge was meant as a temporary place of worship while Stonehenge was being "upgraded," as it were. This notion, however, presupposes that the wooden henge was contemporary with the importation of the stone blocks. If this is not the case, then it is entirely likely that there were actually two ritual sites in use at the same time at Stonehenge, and indeed there is no reason why there shouldn't have been. Anyway, the question cannot be answered without dating evidence, none of which has been forthcoming just yet.

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