New research suggests continuous human presence in Stonehenge landscape for ten millennia

Archaeology Correspondent

New research has revealed that the landscape around Stonehenge has been continuously occupied for  around 10,000 years.

The findings – a series of radio carbon dates from a site 1.5 miles east of the famous prehistoric  monument – strengthens  the likelihood that the area was of considerable political significance  for literally thousands of years before Stonehenge and its neighbouring monuments were built.

The earliest definitive evidence of human activity in the area – dating from around 8000 BC – is from a site 100 metres north of Stonehenge. But now a new series of 11 radio carbon dates reveal that an area 1.5 miles east of the site of Stonehenge was inhabited between 7600 and 4700 BC, during the pre-agricultural ‘Mesolithic’ period.  Still standing ancient  tombs and other monuments  in the Stonehenge landscape date  from the subsequent Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon and later medieval periods – and the nearby small town of Amesbury has existed since  at least the 9 century AD.

The newly dated Mesolithic site, 1.5 miles east of Stonehenge,  was located around a spring. So far archaeologists – led by David Jacques of the University of Buckingham – have found  more than 4000 stone tools and over 1000 bones from animals slaughtered for food there. Evidence has also been discovered suggesting that large scale feasting around very substantial camp fires was taking place at the site.

“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on in Stonehenge itself,” said Mr. Jacques.

Some evidence suggests that the site may have had ritual significance. It is also likely that the Mesolithic site (originally a series of large timber posts) just north of Stonehenge also had a religious role. Combined, both these Mesolithic sites may help to explain why the area became ritually and politically so important and therefore why Stonehenge itself was ultimately built there.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Are you a breath of fresh air? This vibrant bo...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory Solicitor / Compliance Manager - Surrey

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - SENIOR POSITION - An excellent senio...

Recruitment Genius: Inbound & Outbound Sales Agent

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Inbound & Outbound Sales Age...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea