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  • The large complex was found in a city around 1.5 miles from Stonehenge
  • The 656 foot diameter complex consists of around 3,000 feet of ditches 
  • Around 300 feet (100 metres) of the ditches have been excavated so far
  • Evidence of cattle bones, ceramic dishes and human remains were found

A new discovery could help shed light on why the mysterious Stonehenge was built.

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A new discovery could help shed light on why the mysterious Stonehenge was built. The large complex, found in a city around 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the famous stone circle, is thought to date back more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge (pictured) Daily Mail

The large complex, found in a city around 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the famous stone circle, is thought to date back more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge.

The researchers say the complex was a sacred place where Neolithic people performed ceremonies, including feasting and the deliberate smashing of ceramic bowls.

The new discovery shows the entire area around Stonehenge was even more sacred and ritually active than archaeologists had thought, hundreds of years before Stonehenge appeared.

The complex was built about 5,650 years ago, around 3650 BC, more than 1,000 years before the stones of Stonehenge were erected.

The 656 foot (200 metre) diameter complex consists of around 3,000 feet (950 metres) of ditches and is the first major early Neolithic monument discovered in the Stonehenge area for more than a century.

It was discovered in a village called Larkhill in Wiltshire, just 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north east of the famous site.

A group of archaeologists found the site after the UK Ministry of Defence was preparing to build British Army houses on the land.

The researchers, led by Wessex Archaeology, found evidence of cattle bones, ceramic dishes and human remains.

Freshly broken pottery, dumps of worked flint and even a large stone saddle quern used to turn grain into flour were also found.

The researchers will now test the remains of the the findings, including the ceramic bowls, to try to determine what they were used for.

Each bowl could have held up to 10.5 pints (six litres) of beverage or partially liquid food, potentially a broth.

‘The newly found site is one of the most exciting discoveries in the Stonehenge landscape that archaeologists have ever made,’ a prehistorian from Wessex Archaeology said.

‘These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular,’ said Martin Brown, Principal Archaeologist for WYG, consultancy company WYG, which is leading the Larkhill housing development.

‘The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit: They were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world.

‘It is an enormous privilege to hold their tools and investigate their lives.’

Around 300 feet (100 metres) of the ditches have been excavated so far.

Read the full article in the Daily Mail. written by ABIGAIL BEALL

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Located in Wiltshire, England, Stonehenge is one of the world’s most iconic man-made landmarks. Tourists flock to the raised stones to ponder their origins and meaning. Are these the marks of an alien burial site? Were ancient sacrificial rituals conducted here? How were these stones raised before the advent of modern technology? Stonehenge baffles tourists (and historians) to this day as it sits isolated in the middle of the English countryside.

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Recently, a group of archaeologists from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project uncovered the extensive remains of a 90-stone structure less than two miles from Stonehenge. Using remote sensing technologies, the archaeologists were able to detect the presence of the massive stone monument, which is currently buried under a bank of grass. Though the archaeologists aren’t entirely sure when the monument was built, they are able to place its construction as contemporary to Stonehenge itself, some time between 2,000 and 3,000 BC.

This new discovery means Stonehenge is not isolated and may in fact be relatively small in comparison to its newfound neighbor. Scientists and archaeologists alike are scrambling to figure out the significance of the new monument and where it figures into the history of the area.

Luckily for them, the new monument is surprisingly well-preserved, and excavation of the stones could lead to specimens more easily researchable than Stonehenge. If full excavation occurs, the monument would form a half moon that dwarfs its sister site. Preemptive hypotheses suggest the new stones might’ve been used for ancient calendar purposes, as a sacred space for religious acts, or as the wall of an arena.

In a statement released to the press by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, Paul Garwood, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, reflected on the project’s game-changing discovery, “The extraordinary scale, detail and novelty of the evidence produced by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is changing fundamentally our understanding of Stonehenge and the world around it. Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be re-written.”

Regardless of what scientists uncover, this story will be an important one to watch unfold. And in the near future, the discovery might also be a can’t-miss addition to the English travel itinerary.

By: Fiona Moriarty, Hipmunk (HUFFINGTON POST)

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