An array of stones arranged in a square was discovered under the Avebury world heritage site considered to be the largest stone circle in the world. The discovery includes a dozen large stones, each approximately 3 meters wide and weighing 40 tons each. According to researchers, the probably indicate the location of an important house dating back to 2000 B.C.
The researchers working at the site theorize that the original site included 100 huge stones arrayed in a circle with a 330 meter diameter. 24 miles from Avebury lays Stonehenge which in comparison is about quarter of the site's size.
Avebury from the air
Avebury is threatening to steal Stonehenge's thunder by offering a richer, unique and more impressive subterranean attraction – a line of stones. Unlike other stone circles in the area, the stones in the Avebury array were arranged in a square – a parameter that researchers are paying a lot of attention to. According to The Telegraph, the oddest find was a wooden house that occupied the site at around 3500 BC.
Researchers theorize that the Neolithic hut was built by Avebury's ancestors that as time passed it become an icon of birth of the community that after 1000 years descendents constructed the monumental square around its foundations, lining with massive stones enclosing an obelisk.
Dr Mark Gillings from Leicester University School of Archaeology and Ancient History says that the square has the potential to be the one of the oldest structures in the prehistoric site. "We identified and mapped a line of prehistoric stones that were concealed and buried together with locations of other stones that were destroyed. Together we identified a unique square structure in the internal southern circle."
The Secret Square at Avebury Henge
According to common beliefs, stone circles were designed as an assembling area for pagan ceremonies, but many of them were destroyed, probably in the mid evil era when they were associated with paganism. Gillings says "There were probably many similar stones around this area at the time. It was quite and engineering feat for the time to arrange them in such a form. It was an endeavor that demanded a lot of hard work."
In the centuries that followed, the square was dismantled and the stones were used to construct the three impressive stone circles which still stand today. The team also uncovered evidence that lines of stones once cut across the southern inner circle, like spokes on a wheel.
The original square monument with the huge obelisk in the centre CREDIT: SCHOOL OF ARCHAEOLOGY & ANCIENT HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER
The new finds conclude Alexander Keiller 's research. Dr. Joshua Polard Secretary of the Prehistoric Society and the UK editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology and an archeology professor at Southampton University commented. Keiller, originally a marmalade magnate first discovered the a curious line of standing stones next to a fallen down obelisk in 1939 and started digging (despite thinking it was a middle ages structure). Oddly enough he found mainly domestic artifacts rather than ritual ones. When World War 2 broke out, the dig was abandoned and the site all but forgotten.
Pollard said to The Telegraph: “Our careful programme of geophysical survey has finally completed the work begun by Keiller. Megalithic circles are well known from the time when Avebury was built during the late Neolithic, but square megalithic settings of this scale and complexity are unheard of.”
Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist at Avebury, added: “This discovery has been almost eighty years in the making but it’s been well worth waiting for. The completion of the work first started by Keiller in the 1930s has revealed an entirely new type of monument at the heart of the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle, using techniques he never dreamt of.”