Origins of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge

David Nash, Jake Ciborowski, Stewart Ullyott, Mike Parker Pearson, Timothy Darvill, Susan Greaney, Georgios Maniatis, Katy Whitaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The sources of the stone used to construct Stonehenge around 2500 BCE have been debated for over four centuries. The smaller "bluestones" near the center of the monument have been traced to Wales, but the origins of the sarsen (silcrete) megaliths that form the primary architecture of Stonehenge remain unknown. Here, we use geochemical data to show that 50 of the 52 sarsens at the monument share a consistent chemistry and, by inference, originated from a common source area. We then compare the geochemical signature of a core extracted from Stone 58 at Stonehenge with equivalent data for sarsens from across southern Britain. From this, we identify West Woods, Wiltshire, 25 km north of Stonehenge, as the most probable source area for the majority of sarsens at the monument.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabc0133
Pages (from-to)eabc0133
Number of pages8
JournalScience Advances
Volume6
Issue number31
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • sarsen
  • silcrete
  • Stonehenge
  • geochemistry

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