Archaeologists find new monument near Stonehenge
Archaeologists said Thursday they have discovered a monument similar to Stonehenge near the ancient British stone circle, dubbing it the most exciting find at the site for 50 years.
The structure is said to be like a wooden version of the world-famous collection of giant stones piled up on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, southwest England.
"This is probably the first major ceremonial monument that has been found in the past 50 years or so," said Vince Gaffney, a professor from the University of Birmingham, who is leading the archaeological dig.
"It will completely change the way we think about the landscape around Stonehenge."
The new "henge-like" monument, found just 900 metres (2,950 feet) away from Stonehenge, is thought to have been a circular, timber structure with two entrances, and was probably constructed around the same time as the stone circle some 4,500 years ago.
It was unearthed by a team of archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna, as part of a major project to map the landscape around Stonehenge.
"The discovery is all the more remarkable given how much research there has been in the vicinity of Stonehenge, and emphasises the importance of continuing research within and around the World Heritage Site," said Amanda Chadburn, an English Heritage archaeologist.
The origins of Stonehenge are unclear, but the stone circle is one of Britain's biggest tourist draws and twice a year is the focus of celebrations of the summer and winter solstices.
© 2010 AFP