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Durrington Walls

Neolithic henge monument; stone circle

Durrington Walls is the site of a large Neolithic settlement and later henge enclosure in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. It is 2 miles north-east of Stonehenge in the parish of Durrington, just north of Amesbury.

Durrington Walls
Map showing Woodhenge and Durrington Walls within the Stonehenge section of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Durrington Walls
Durrington Walls
Map showing Woodhenge and Durrington Walls within the Stonehenge section of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
LocationOS SU150437
RegionWiltshire
Coordinates51°11′33″N 1°47′12″W / 51.1925°N 1.786667°W / 51.1925; -1.786667Coordinates: 51°11′33″N 1°47′12″W / 51.1925°N 1.786667°W / 51.1925; -1.786667
Typehenge
History
PeriodsNeolithic
Site notes
Excavation dates1966-7, 2003-
ArchaeologistsG.J. Wainwright,
Stonehenge Riverside Project
Conditioneroded banks and ditch
Public accessYes
WebsiteNational Trust
Designated1986[1]
Reference no.373
Designated1929
Reference no.1009133[2]

Excavations in 2013 by a team has revealed a huge settlement; 1,000 homes have been found, supporting a population of 4,000 people at one time. The village was carbon dated to about 2600 B.C.

The monument was on "an extraordinary scale" and unique, researchers said. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes team has been creating an underground map of the area in a five-year project. Remote sensing and geophysical imaging technology has been used to reveal evidence of nearly 100 stones without the need for excavation. The monument is just under two miles (3km) from Stonehenge, Wiltshire, and is thought to have been a Neolithic ritual site.

It is the "largest Neolithic settlement in the whole of northern Europe".[3][4] At 500m in diameter, the henge is the largest in Britain and recent evidence suggests that it was a complementary monument to Stonehenge.[5]

What visibly remains of Durrington Walls today is the 'walls' of the henge monument. This is now a ridge surrounding a central basin. Originally the ditch was some 5.5m deep, 7m wide at its bottom and 18m wide at the top. The bank was in some areas 30m wide. There were two entrances through the bank and ditch – at the north western and south eastern ends. The henge enclosed several timber circles and smaller enclosures – not all of which have been excavated. Several Neolithic house floors have been found next to and under the eastern bank of the henge. Their density suggests that there was a very large village on the sloping river bank on this side.

About three feet underneath Durrington Walls, there are remains of about 90 standing stones, maybe from an earlier time. The stones are in a "slightly curved row." They were found in 2015, using special archaeological research tools and methods including ground-penetrating radar. Scientists do not know if this feature is the same age as early Stonehenge or not. [6][7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites". UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
  2. English Heritage Scheduled Monument record: Henge monuments at Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, a round barrow cemetery, two additional round barrows and four settlements, accessed 24 January 2015
  3. Stonehenge builders travelled from far, say researchers BBC News 2013. [1]
  4. Price, Siân 2007. Stonehenge's huge support settlement. BBC News Science/Nature. [2]
  5. The New York Times 30 January 2007
  6. "Stonehenge Has A New (Old) Neighbor: Row Of Huge Stones Found Nearby". NPR.org.
  7. Stonehenge researchers 'may have found largest Neolithic site'. BBC News 2015. [3]
 
Durrington Walls, as seen from the south of the monument. It is bisected here to the left by one of the two roads that now cross the prehistoric site.