Prehistory

Moving Pictures

Just a short note to point out that I have uploaded a couple of short, silent, jerky and amateurish movie files to my main web site, www.prehistoric.org.uk. They were taken five years ago on August 20th 2001. One shows emergency repairs underway at the top of Silbury Hill and the other is a short walkthrough of West Kennet Long Barrow. For all of their faults, I thought it was worth putting them online to enable people to view them who can’t so easily get to these places.

You’ll need the Apple Quicktime plug-in for the browser and operating system of your choice in order to view.

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Stonehenge Riverside Project 2006

Yesterday (Sunday 27th August 2006) I was fortunate enough to visit the excavations currently taking place around the Stonehenge landscape.

As I had to pass that way, I started my day with a short visit to Avebury. It was my first visit since I bought my wide angle lens, so I wanted to try taking a few wide angle shots of the stones.

south circle stones 2

After an hour or so wandering around Avebury, I made my way down to Woodhenge. On the way I had to pass by Stonehenge, which was an absolute anthill.

stonehenge crowd

At Woodhenge I met up with Pete Glastonbury and watched the excavation in progress. They had two trenches open. One at the southern edge of the post holes and one across the bank at the Southeast of the site. It was amazing to see just how large the post holes were! The concrete markers on the surface are supposed to show the width of the posts and you tend to forget that the holes to take those posts were much wider in order to allow for packing the posts in place.

Woodhenge bank trench

They’ve been coming up with some remarkable finds here, including a chunk of bluestone (the type of rock used for the smaller stones at Stonehenge). You can find out more about this on the Eternal Idol blog, including more bluestone finds at the Stonehenge Cursus.

From Woodhenge we walked down the lane to Durrington Walls, Britain’s largest henge. I had never visited Durrington Walls before, although I had driven right though the middle of it on many occasions without even knowing it was there (as I’m sure hundreds if not thousands do each and every day). I had always been aware of the location of the modern settlement of Durrington, and often when driving down to Stonehenge I would keep my eyes open on both sides of the road for signs of massive earthworks. It was only during a fairly recent visit to Woodhenge that I finally realised where Durrington Walls was and spotted the huge bank encircling the site.

There were several trenches open at Durrington, on both sides of the road. A large trench had been cut right in the middle of the henge. An archaeologist explained that they wanted to conduct a geophysical survey of the central area, but they had to dig away some of the top soil first. The central area is down a hill side and over the thousands of years since the henge was in use quite a depth of soil had built up at the bottom of the hill. The geophysical equipment they wanted to use worked best at depths of up to 1.5 meters below the surface, so they had to remove some of the surface material to optimise their results. They’re hoping for some ‘very interesting’ results from this central location.

Nearby were two other trenches, both of which had yielded Neolithic huts! It was amazing to stand there and know that you were looking at a floor surface which people had walked upon around 4,000 to 4,500 years ago, and to see their hearths.

We were shown a Neolithic flint arrow head which had just been found, pictured below. Apologies for the photo, I had my 300mm zoom on at the time and didn’t have a chance to swap lenses for this shot.

flint arrowhead

I think the most poignant thing I saw during the day were the tool marks left in the chalk by the antler picks used to construct this incredible structure. The marks looked so fresh it was hard to believe that the people who made them had been dead for so long.

chalk tool marks

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