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Ground-penetrating radar reveals huge monument near Stonehenge

Nick Summers, @nisummers
September 7, 2015
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Stonehenge is an iconic and mysterious English landmark, but it's not the only place to attract the interest of local archaeologists. Nearly 100 stone monoliths have been discovered at a site called the Durrington Walls, about two miles north-east of Stonehenge. For the average visitor, there's little to see at ground level -- just the grassy remains of a sloping bank. But with ground-penetrating radar, researchers have mapped the area and discovered evidence of up to 90 stones three feet underground. Around 30 remain intact, measuring up to 4.5 meters tall, while fragments of a further 60 lay beside them.

The team believe that the standing stones were eventually toppled over by neolithic builders, making way for the massive defensive bank that now sits on top of them. They've been hidden for millennia, which is why the team used "non-invasive geophysical prospection and remote sensing technologies" -- boy, that's a mouthful -- to inspect the area and see what was below the already precious "super-henge" remains. None of the stones have been excavated yet, but their discovery sheds new light both on Stonehenge and the surrounding area. What we don't know of course, is why prehistoric settlers erected them in the first place. Cremated bone fragments suggest Stonehenge was once a burial ground -- but much of its history, like the Durrington Walls, still remains a mystery.

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