'Woodhenge', wooden version of Stonehenge found in UK

Updated: 23 Jul 2010
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Archaeologists have discovered a wooden monument similar to Stonehenge and dubbed the most exciting find in the area in 50 years / AAP


An artist's impression of what the "Woodhenge" would have looked like


EXCITED archaeologists have discovered Stonehenge's twin — just a few hundred yards from the world-famous monument.

The sister site was a huge WOODEN circle made of free-standing timbers up to 6m tall.

It was built around the time Stonehenge was being completed and was slightly smaller with a diameter of 25m, compared to 30m for the stone circle.

But it appears to have the same alignment as its mystical neighbour where the main portal greets the rising sun on Midsummer's Day.


The new henge was uncovered just two weeks into a three-year project to map the area around Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site.

Team leader Professor Vince Gaffney said the once-in-a-lifetime discovery could lead to a complete re-writing of Stonehenge's history.

He said: "This was a ritual monument, like a church, which was built as Stonehenge was reaching its final form between 2,500 - 2,000BC.

"It was within view of Stonehenge - around 900m away - and appears to have been aligned pretty much in the same direction.

"It was slightly oval in design and built of substantial timbers which were placed in holes up to a metre across.

"Almost certainly they were free-standing posts - up to 6m tall - but whether they were decorated or not is difficult to tell."

The new henge comprises a segmented ditch with entrances to the north east and south west.

Some experts have suggested that wooden henges were created as places of worship for the living — with the stone ones as places to celebrate the dead.

Prof Gaffney, of Birmingham University, added: "I would not necessarily subscribe to that theory, but undoubtedly it had some religious significance.

"The wonderful thing about this discovery is that it now means that the whole area around Stonehenge needs to be reinterpreted.

"People have tended to think that as Stonehenge reached its peak, it was the paramount monument, existing in splendid isolation.

"This shows it was not alone."

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project, involving experts from Britain, Austria, Germany, Norway and Sweden, aims to map 5.5 square miles of the terrain around the Wiltshire site using the latest geophysical imaging techniques.

Prof Gaffney said: "Stonehenge is one of the most studied monuments on Earth, but this demonstrates that there is still much more to be found.

"To put this in context, we haven't found a major ceremonial site of this type, or of this significance, for probably 50 years or more within the area of Stonehenge.

"The presumption was this was just an empty field - now we have got a major ceremonial monument, looking at Stonehenge.

"It may be that there is more stuff for us to find - in fact almost certainly, there will be."




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