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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 7:47 EDT

New Discoveries at Stonehenge Excavation Site

April 9, 2008

A breakthrough at the Stonehenge excavation site could finally explain why the site was built.

The ambiguous arrangement is composed of large sandstone blocks surrounded by smaller bluestones.

Archaeologists have broken through to a layer of ground at the site containing sockets that once held bluestones””the smaller stones that formed the site’s original structure, most of which were missing or uprooted.

Stonehenge experts Tim Darvill, president of the Society of Antiquaries, and Geoff Wainwright, archaeology professor at Bournemouth University, say the bluestones may answers questions as to whether Stonehenge was once a place of healing.

“This was a place of healing, for the soul and the body,” said Darvill. “The Presili Hills is a magical place. The stones from there are regarded as having healing properties.”

“The first week has gone really well. We have broken through to these key features. It is a slow process but at the moment everything is going exactly to plan,” said Darvill.

This is the first archeological dig to take place a Stonehenge in over 40 years and the two-week excavation is being funded by the BBC and filmed for a special Timewatch program to be broadcast in the autumn.

Professors Darvill and Wainwright believe finding out more about the history of the bluestones could be the answer to solving the mystery of why the 4,500-year-old landmark was erected.

The bluestones were transported some 150 miles (250k) from the Preseli Hills in Wales to the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. The researchers believe the stones were brought to the site because the ancient people believed they had healing properties.

Wainwright said the site could have been a “Neolithic Lourdes”.

The giant sarsen “goal posts”, which came from about 20km (12 miles) away, may have arrived much later than the rest of the stones.

The archaeological team has also unearthed a whole host of other finds as they have peeled back the layers of the 2.5m-by-3.5m (8.2ft-by-11.5ft) trench, including a beaker pottery fragment, Roman ceramics and ancient stone hammers.

In the 1990s, archaeologists attempted to date the first circle, and judged it to have been erected in 2,550BC.

On the Net:

“Digging For Absolute Answers at Stonehenge”

Society of Antiquaries

Bournemouth University