Steve Parsons / AP
The mystery around Stonehenge continues to grow.
The latest revelation is the discovery of a ring of at least 20 prehistoric trees about 2 km from the famous Neolithic site of huge standing stones, according to an announcement from the University of Bradford.
Archaeologists say the “amazing” tree at Durrington walls dates back to 2,500 B.C. E., and forms a circle more than 2 km (1.2 miles) in diameter. Each can measure up to 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter and 5 meters (16 feet) deep.
Researchers say there may be more than 30 trees at a time.
“The area around Stonehenge is among the most studied archaeological landscapes on Earth and it is remarkable that the application of new technology can still lead to the discovery of such a prehistoric structure which, currently, is much more important than any comparative prehistoric monument we know in Britain, at least, “said Professor Vincent Gaffney of the University of Bradford.
The research was conducted by a consortium of archaeologists as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project. The University of Bradford was the main institution, joined by Vienna Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospecting and Virtual Archeology; the Universities of Birmingham, St Andrews and Warwick, University of Wales, Trinity Saint Davids; and the Scottish Universities Center for Environmental Research at the University of Glasgow.
When the researchers first discovered the underground wells, they believed they may have been caused naturally. But when the team undertook the geophysical studies, the “bigger picture emerged” and the scientists were able to “join the dots and see that there was a pattern on a massive scale,” Gaffney explained.
The ring was discovered using remote sensing in what was previously estimated to be “empty spaces” between the monuments that make up UNESCO’s World Heritage.
Richard Bates with the University of St Andrews said the discovery “is to give us a glimpse into the past, which shows an even more complex society than one could ever imagine. ”
Bates added: “Clearly sophisticated practices demonstrate that people were so in tune with natural events to an extent that we can barely conceive of in the modern world we live in today. ”
The exact function of the well is not clear, but a dominant theory is that they acted as a limit to a sacred space connected to Stonehenge.