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New Wood Henge Volume 51 Number 1, January/February 1998
by Chris Scarre

[image] Plan of newly detected henge at Stanton Drew, England (Courtesy English Heritage) [LARGER IMAGE]

Remains of the largest timber henge ever found have been discovered at Stanton Drew, near Bristol, a site already famous for its three circles of standing stones. The new henge, detected during a magnetometer survey of the Great Circle, the largest of the stone monuments, has nine concentric rings of what look like postholes, each about three feet wide. The outermost ring is more than 300 feet in diameter, filling most of the area within the Great Circle, while the innermost ring is about 75 feet across. All told, there were probably between 400 and 500 posts. Beyond the stones the magnetometer located an encircling ditch, no longer visible, about 23 feet wide and almost 450 feet in diameter. Thus, the whole monument is somewhat larger than Stonehenge, whose outer bank measures about 360 feet across. A date of ca. 3000 B.C. seems probable, though excavation would be needed to confirm it and to show that the magnetic traces are indeed those of postholes. Neolithic timber circles are known at other sites in southern Britain, such as Woodhenge and Avebury, but none is on the scale of the Stanton Drew circle.

Chris Scarre is at the University of Cambridge.

* For more information on Stanton Drew, see English Heritage's web site at: http://www.eng-h.gov.uk/archaeometry/StantonDrew/.
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© 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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