You wait millennia for a Seahenge and then two come along at once

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The Independent Online

After all the grief and aggravation over the fate of Seahenge, the Bronze Age wooden circle found on a lonely Norfolk beach, a second, mysterious, ancient monument has been found just a stone's throw away.

After all the grief and aggravation over the fate of Seahenge, the Bronze Age wooden circle found on a lonely Norfolk beach, a second, mysterious, ancient monument has been found just a stone's throw away.

It consists of part of a circle of posts, with two logs laid flat in the centre, on the foreshore at Holme-next-the-Sea near Hunstanton, where Seahenge, an eerie post circle surrounding an upturned oak tree, was discovered two years ago.

As speculation mounted that the new object might be another ring with a ritual purpose, as Seahenge is thought to be, county council officials were dismayed that it might bring thousands of visitors to the area, which is extremely sensitive for wildlife.

Heritage bodies could again find themselves in a public row over how to preserve such a monument. After much discussion and argument, Seahenge's timbers, which were lifted to try to save them from the tide, are now likely to be reburied.

But the head of the Norfolk Archaeology Unit, Brian Ayers, sought to dampen speculation by declaring that the new object is likely to be the remains of a barrow, an ancient burial chambers. Barrows are common in Britain, with about 40,000 known, Mr Ayers said. The council has no plans to investigate the new monument.

English Heritage and Norfolk County Council have known of the second ring for some time but did not make their knowledge public. The council fears it could attract hordes of visitors - 17,000 came to Seahenge between July and August 1999 - who could damage the vulnerable peat which supports rare wildlife, including wading birds.

Little has been learnt from the timbers of Seahenge. The giant central oak was 150 years old when it was felled and the circle was built in the summer of 2050BC in the middle of a forest long since eroded by the North Sea.

Matthew Champion, the author of Seahenge - A Contemporary Chronicle is not surprised at the appearance of a second circle. "The beach at Holme is one of the most important Bronze Age sites ever found in this country," he said.

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