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Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge

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Author Topic: Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge  (Read 172 times)
Bianca Markos
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« on: January 01, 2010, 07:53:45 am »

Human Remains

Over 150 years had passed since John Aubrey first surveyed Stonehenge, and the prehistoric wonder had grown into a symbol of national pride; a rare glimpse into Britain’s prehistoric past. It was the turn of the 19th century, and time for another aristocrat to etch his name on the megalith’s history books. Enter banking heir Richard C. Hoare, who travelled to Wiltshire with friend and archaeologist William Cunnington in 1808. The pair would carry out a huge number of digs in and around Stonehenge, throwing up two groundbreaking discoveries around the famous monument. Whilst digging around a prostrate slaughter stone, Hoare and Cunnington asserted that the giant stone had, in fact, once stood up. This allowed them to draw conclusions about Stonehenge’s original layout, as well as putting it in context with the surrounding area. As Hoare and Cunnington worked, they were careful to preserve their posterity in the form of metal tokens deposited in each hole excavated.

It would be Stonehenge’s surrounding area which would, incidentally, give the illustrious pair their biggest breakthrough when, whilst digging in a round barrow some 1km southwest of the site (‘Bush Barrow’), they unearthed the remains of a human man, resplendent with a gold belt fastener, gold breastplate, mace head, two daggers, and a flanged axe. The body is now widely perceived to be that of a prominent local chieftain, with the find leading to modern conclusions that Stonehenge may have been some sort of prehistoric palace or temple, reserved for only the highest of officials in its local hierarchy.
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