Until Tuesday’s lecture about the site surrounding woodhenge, I was unaware of the surrounding sites that Stonehenge is located near. The woodhenge topic fascinated me so I did some research on it. There are multiple woodhenge sites across the world and one located in Wiltshire, England, just two miles from the famous Stonehenge. It is similar to Stonehenge in that it is a circular pattern of posts, but instead of stone they were constructed of wood. There are six concentric oval rings of posts surrounded by an earthwork – a flat ditch. Interestingly at the very center there is a burial of a child. Archeologist believe this was a sacrifice. This means that clearly the woodhenge had an element of a social site or a place of worship. There is also a burial of a teenager on the site. The site was no small project. In fact, the posts would have weighed up to 5 tons and rested 2 meters into the ground. This site was discovered in 1925 when an aerial survey was conducted on the area. This henge dates to the late Neolithic period.
The official English site for woodhenge invites people to come see it and mentions that there is a possibility that the ditches may have been used as defense. Admittance to the site is free and remains open year-round. While the original timbers no longer exist, the holes still exist and new wood posts have been placed to show the location of the original timbers. The mystery surrounding the timbers is that there is no way to know the original appearance or what they were used for. It is also particular that bronze age farmers avoided farming at the site for an unknown reason. Some archeologist speculate that they could have been used as structure for roofed buildings. Radiocarbon dating shows that the henge remained in use for up to one hundred years after the construction date.
The site is still being excavated by the University of Birminghap and Austria-based Ludwig Boltmann Institute for Archeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology. So far only about four kilometers squared have been excavated. They plan to complete sixteen square kilometers. The significance of woodhenge is that is shows how extensive the site that was originally believe to be quite small really is. The Stonehenge site consists of more than just the stone rings. It consists of the woodhenge and many earthworks as well.
“History of Woodhenge.” English Heritage. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/woodhenge/history/