First Stonehenge dig in 44 years
Monday 31 March 2008
Archaeologists have begun a historic dig which they hope will unravel the ancient mystery of Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain.
A trench is being excavated at the World Heritage site in a bid to establish the precise dating of the Double Bluestone Circle, the first stone structure that was built there thousands of years ago.
Timothy Darvill and Geoffrey Wainwright, the professors leading the first dig inside the stone circle in 44 years, believe their project could answer the "eternal questions" of when and why Stonehenge was first built.
Prof Darvill, of Bournemouth University, and Prof Wainwright, President of the Society of Antiquaries, will compare samples with their research in the Preseli hills in south-west Wales, from where 80 such stones were carried an estimated 4,500 years ago.
Prof Wainwright said: "The excavation will date the arrival of the bluestones following their 250km (153 mile) journey from Preseli to Salisbury Plain and contribute to our definition of the society which undertook such an ambitious project.
"We will be able to say not only why but when the first stone monument was built."
The last time an excavation was allowed inside the sarsen stone pillars was in 1964.
The hole, which will eventually measure 3.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep, will be dug by hand in a previously excavated area on the south-eastern quadrant of the Double Stone Circle with the hope of retrieving fragments of the original bluestone pillars.
English Heritage agreed to the excavation on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, following consent by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Stonehenge will remain open as normal and visitors will be able to observe up close the excavation as it happens on plasma screens inside a special marquee.
BBC Timewatch and Smithsonian Networks will fund the project.
- 1 Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 Nineteen-year-old student left gifts for parents before taking her own life
- 4 Deliberately urinating before sex can increase risk of urinary tract infections
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
'Je suis Muslim': Hundreds rally in Australia over portrayal of Islam and Prophet Mohamed
AirAsia QZ8501: Black box reveals warning alarms 'screamed' before crash, as more bodies recovered from near fuselage of jet
Nineteen-year-old student left gifts for parents before taking her own life
Isis Japanese hostages: Video purports to show Haruna Yukawa executed and second hostage Kenji Goto with new terms for release
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
David Cameron says anyone criticising Eric Pickles' letter to Muslims 'really has a problem'
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...
£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...