The construction of the megalithic monument at Stonehenge has long been explained as has having been built in numerous stages, spanning a period between 8,000 and 1,600 BCE. The structure of the site has seen various upgrades over the ages, from it’s beginnings as a series of pine markers, to the multi-ton bluestones that are visible today. However, archaeologists have recently uncovered evidence that the stones used there may have been taken from an earlier monument, closer to the stones’ origin in Wales.
Recent excavations have been made by an archaeological team from University College London at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, bluestone quarries that are near the accepted site of the origin of Stonehenge’s standing stones at Preseli Hills in Wales. These investigations have revealed recesses in the outcroppings at those sites that match the standing stones that make up Stonehenge’s inner horseshoe-shaped configuration. The team was able to radiocarbon-date campfire remains there, presumably left by the original quarriers. However the results they found are 500 years older than corresponding remains found at Stonehenge itself.
The accepted date of the installation of Stonehenge’s megaliths is about 2,900 BCE, but the artifacts from the quarries date to between 6,400 and 6,200 BCE, of which has prompted the researchers to theorize that the stones may have been recycled from an earlier monument, that was built and used during the half-millennium interval.
“We have dates of around 3400 BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3200 BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2900 BC,” explains project director Professor Mike Parker Pearson. “It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view. It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.”
This theory has prompted researchers to begin looking for signs of another megalithic site, somewhere between Stonehenge and Wales, as a possible candidate as the stones’ donor site. An alternative theory for the discrepancy for the dates is that Stonehenge itself might be much older than originally thought, but Pearson doubts this: “…we think it’s more likely that they were building their own monument [in Wales], that somewhere near the quarries there is the first Stonehenge and that what we’re seeing at Stonehenge is a second-hand monument.”