In 2003, a team of archaeologists from five universities began the first long-term programme of fieldwork focused on Stonehenge in decades.
The Stonehenge Riverside Project was co-directed by Prof. Mike Parker Pearson (UCL), Prof. Josh Pollard (Southampton), Prof. Julian Thomas (Manchester), Prof. Chris Tilley (UCL), Prof. Kate Welham (Bournemouth), and Prof. Colin Richards of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute.
The project ran until 2009, its goal to consider the iconic monument within its wider archaeological context. The working hypothesis behind the venture links Stonehenge with a complex of timber monuments at the henge of Durrington Walls and neighbouring Woodhenge.
The first volume of a set of four was launched this week and presents the results of the seven-year project. Stonehenge for the Ancestors: Part One includes details of the monuments and landscape that pre-dated Stonehenge – particularly the role of the River Avon – as well as excavation work on the monument itself.
A key discovery was cremated human remains at Stonehenge, which allowed their demography, health and dating to be established. With a revised radiocarbon chronology for the five stages of Stonehenge’s construction these burials can now be considered within the context of the monument’s development.
The different types of stone used in the construction of Stonehenge – bluestones from Wales and sarsen silcretes from more local sources – are investigated both at Stonehenge and surrounding monuments, including the Cuckoo Stone and the Tor Stone, as well as the newly discovered Bluestonehenge circle at West Amesbury beside the River Avon.
Stonehenge for the Ancestors Part One – Landscape and Monuments is published by Sidetone Press and available to purchase now.
The book can also be read, for free, here.