Archaeologists conducting excavations in the Preseli Hills in Wales have discovered the remains of a stone circle, that may have been dismantled and used in the early phase of bluestone construction at Stonehenge.
The circle was found near the bluestone quarries at the monolithic site of Waun Mawn, which has now been revealed to be the third largest stone circle in Britain, after Avebury in Wiltshire, and Stanton Drew in Somerset.
Investigations by the ‘Stones of Stonehenge’ research project, (which previously excavated two bluestone quarries), conducted studies of Waun Mawn to determine whether the quarries were the source of four standing stones that remain in situ.
Excavations in 2018 revealed empty stone holes, confirming that the four remaining stones were part of a former circle. Scientific dating of charcoal and sediments in the holes confirmed that the Waun Mawn stone circle was erected around 3400 BC.
The team compared the two sites, identifying multiple parallels that suggests the transportation of the Waun Mawn circle some 175 miles to Stonehenge, where it was erected during one of the early phases of Stonehenge construction.
In the journal Antiquity, the researchers argue that both monuments were aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise, and that Waun Mawn had a diameter of 110 metres, the same as that of the ditch that encloses Stonehenge.
One of the bluestones at Stonehenge also has an unusual cross-section which matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn, and chippings in that hole are of the same rock type as the Stonehenge stone.
The Preseli region of Wales was a densely settled part of Neolithic Britain, with heavy quarrying and monolithic construction, but around 3,000 BC the population appears to have uprooted, with Professor. Mike Parker Pearson of University College London stating “It’s as if they just vanished. Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones – their ancestral identities – with them”.
Header Image – Vecteezy Licensed