Bizarre French inspiration of Stonehenge as slab origins confirmed
Some experts believe that the ancient monument was used as a cemetery for more than 500 years, and some suggest that it may be of spiritual importance, due to the encompassing horseshoe arrangement being aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice.
Up until now, all that archaeologists knew with reasonable certainty was that the stones had been brought in around 2500BC from the Marlborough Downs by the great temple’s Neolithic builders.
Now though, scientists from the University of Brighton have traced the stones to a very specific two square mile part of that range of hills — a patch of woodland just south of the village of Lockeridge, Wiltshire.
But, they may have taken inspiration from overseas.
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests an ancient culture that emerged from what is now the Brittany region of northwest France may have begun building these structures and monuments some 7,000 years ago.
Study author Bettina Schulz Paulsson of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden said that the megalith building probably began in France and spread from there via sea routes around Europe over the next 1,000 years or so.
For more than a decade, Dr. Paulson created a “megalith evolution” using radiocarbon dating of more than 2,000 historic sites across Europe.
She wrote: “The results presented here, based on analysis of 2,410 radiocarbon dates and highly precise chronologies for megalithic sites and related contexts, suggest maritime mobility and intercultural exchange.
“We argue for the transfer of the megalithic concept over sea routes emanating from northwest France, and for advanced maritime technology and seafaring in the megalithic Age.”
These structures were originally thought to have their roots in Northern Europe, but Dr. Paulsson has long suspected they originated elsewhere since she excavated her first megalithic site approximately 20 years ago, in Portugal.
She added: “Everyone told me ‘you’re crazy, it can’t be done, but I decided to do it anyway.”
Michael Parker Pearson, an archaeologist, and Stonehenge specialist at University College London said: “This demonstrates absolutely that Brittany is the origin of the European megalithic phenomenon.”
One of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon. It has been a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882 when legislation to protect historic monuments was first successfully introduced in Britain.
Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage, the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.