Archaeologists believe they may have discovered the “true origins” of the ancient Stonehenge monument after unearthing evidence some of the materials may have served a previous purpose elsewhere.
Experts have long worked at the site to find out more about why and how the ancient wonder was built – with some of the volcanic bluestones used in the structure being brought 160 miles to the site from their point of origin in Wales.
Now researchers have uncovered signs the smaller bluestones originally formed an even older, long-lost monument in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
During filming for the BBC documentary Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed, a team led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson uncovered signs the stones had been left in the western Welsh moorlands.
TV scientist Professor Alice Roberts said the archaeologists “were always up against it”, adding: “they had a terrible time. They’ve been doing this for about 10 years.
“They looked in lots of different places and didn’t find anything. They were almost on the brink of giving up and then they looked at this particular place called Waun Mawn.”
But while the site had previously been described as “doubtful and insignificant” it may now provide proof of the path the bluestones took as they made their way to the site on Salisbury plain.
“They decided that they were going to dig anyway and just see if they can find anything, and they found these ghosts of stone holes,” Prof Roberts said. “And they were exactly the same diameter as the outer circle at Stonehenge."
Acknowledging the finding as “the most exciting archaeology around Stonehenge that’s certainly happened during my lifetime”, she added: “It’s just unbelievable stuff, unbelievable archaeology.”
Archaeologists used 3D scanning techniques, traditional field archaeology, and laboratory analysis to discover when and where the stones for Stonehenge were quarried and where they first stood.
But while the question of where the stones came from may have been answered, why they were transported to England may remain a mystery for now.
Prof Roberts said: “Of course there are questions about why these stones would have been brought from West Wales to Salisbury Plain … but ultimately it’s pre-history and we don’t know.
“Very often in pre-history we’re left asking those questions and I don’t think we’ll ever know because we just don’t have any written record.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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