The mystery surrounding Stonehenge continues to grow. The ring of stone tablets has puzzled archaeologists and laymen alike for centuries, and new discoveries keep coming. Earlier this year, a vast ringed structure of wooden timbers was found only a few miles from Stonehenge. Upon excavation, it was found that the structures had been pulled down and buried at some point in the past, perhaps as an effort to conceal the site. To make Stonehenge even more mysterious, The Independent has reported the discovery of a new vast stone complex believed to have been used in religious and ceremonial rites.
The complex was found only 2.4 km (1.5 miles) from Stonehenge near Larkhill, Wiltshire. British Ministry of Defense contractors were breaking ground on new residences for British military personnel returning from oversea deployments when they came across the ancient structure. Archaeologists estimate the site was built around 5,650 years ago, which would make it 1,000 years older than Stonehenge itself.
The structures consist of 950 metres (~3,100 feet) of concentric circles dug into the ground, but only around 100 meters have been excavated so far. Archaeologist Matt Leivers, on behalf of Wessex Archaeology, told The Independent that this new site has the potential to change our understanding of Stonehenge and prehistoric people in the area:
The newly found site is one of the most exciting discoveries in the Stonehenge landscape that archaeologists have ever made. It transforms our understanding of the intensity of early Neolithic activity in the area.
This new site is now one of seventy known prehistoric sites known as “causewayed enclosures.” These consist of circular trenches arranged in concentric patterns with footpaths, or causeways, crossing through them and are found throughout Europe. The original purpose of these mysterious structures is still unknown, although it is believed they were used in ceremonies ranging from Sun worship to ritualistic burials. Of course, there are also claims that Stonehenge and other similar sites were originally designed as landing pads for extraterrestrial spacecraft, but that theory is probably best left for cable television.