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ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Stones of Stonehenge

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The Stones of Stonehenge Project is a collaboration between researchers from Southampton and UCL (Mike Parker Pearson - Project PI), the National Museum of Wales (Richard Bevins), the Universities of Leicester (Mark Gillings, Rob Ixer), Manchester (Colin Richards), Bournemouth (Kate Welham), and Sheffield (Roger Doonan), and the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (Duncan Schlee).  It aims to explore the various reasons for bringing stones from Wales and from the Avebury area to Stonehenge; and to identify quarry sources and establish the likely routes along which the stones were brought.

Stonehenge is a remarkable monument, not least because of the distances over which the stones used to build it were drawn.  It is known that the sarsen blocks used to form its lintelled circle and five trilithons were brought from the sarsen fields of the Marlborough Downs, nearly 30km away; while the smaller ‘bluestones' have their origins in and around the Preseli Hills of west Wales, a distance of 270km.

During 2011 and 2012 fieldwork has focussed on two sites/areas: the first at Clatford, near Marlborough, where antiquarian records suggest a number of the Stonehenge sarsens were marshalled following extraction; and the second in the catchment of the Afon Brynberian at Craig Rhosyfelin and Castell Mawr.  Petrological matching and excavation at Craig Rhosyfelin have demonstrated that this is one of the sources of Stonehenge rhyolite.  Clear traces of prehistoric stone extraction were found during 2011 and 2012, along with a prepared but abandoned megalith and a stone hole within which another monolith stood.

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