The Stonehenge that is visible today is incomplete, many of its original bluestones having been broken up and taken away, probably during Britain’s Roman and medieval periods.
The ground within the monument also has been severely disturbed, not only by the removal of the stones but also by digging—to various degrees and ends—since the 16th century, when historian and antiquarian William Camden noted that “ashes and pieces of burnt bone” were found.
Major investigations in the early 21st century by the research team of the , early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers dug pits and erected pine posts within 650 feet (200 metres) of Stonehenge’s future location.
The results of their work were not fully published until 1995, however, when the chronology of Stonehenge was revised extensively by means of carbon-14 dating.
Stonehenge stood as giant tombstones to the dead for centuries—perhaps marking the cemetery of a ruling prehistoric dynasty—new radiocarbon dating suggests.
The site appears to have been intended as a cemetery from the very start, around 5,000 years ago—centuries before the giant sandstone blocks were erected—the new study says.
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