Theories about Stonehenge are nearly as old as the ancient monument itself and range from an astronomical calendar to an observatory of bygone days. Now, a team of researchers from the UK claim to have discovered evidence the stone structure started life as a massive burial ground.
“These were men, women, children, so presumably family groups,” Pearson, who led a team that included experts from over a dozen different universities in the UK, told the Associated Press (AP) on Saturday. “We’d thought that maybe it was a place where a dynasty of kings was buried, but this seemed to be much more of a community, a different kind of power structure.”
Not only does Pearson believe his discovery debunks other theories about the monument’s origins, but the dating of the remains found there suggests the earliest stone circle at the site was placed there earlier than experts had thought. It had been believed the first grave markers were placed at the Wiltshire site in 3000 BC – 500 years earlier than previously believed, reported Maev Kennedy of The Guardian.
Pearson also believes the burials conducted there pre-dated Stonehenge in its current form. Excavated bodies have been removed from the monument for nearly a century, but it had been assumed they were all the bodies of adult males and were discarded as extraneous. New analysis methods have revealed the bodies there are almost evenly split amongst men and women, and children – including at least one newborn infant – entombed at the site.