Part of Stonehenge could have originally come from Wales, say archaeologists

Emma-Louise Pritchard
·3-min read
Photo credit: Grant Faint - Getty Images
Photo credit: Grant Faint - Getty Images

From Country Living

Archaeologists have discovered new evidence which suggests that part of Stonehenge may have previously stood in Pembrokeshire, Wales, before being transported to the famous sight in Salisbury, where they have stood for thousands of years.

This discovery of the "true origins" of Stonehenge have been described by TV scientist, Professor Alice Roberts, as "the most exciting archaeology around Stonehenge that’s happened during my lifetime."

Questions over how and why the ancient monument was built has been the focus for archaeologists for years. They already knew that some of the volcanic bluestones used to create Stonehenge originated in Wales, 160 miles away from where they stand today. But now researchers have uncovered evidence which tells us even more detail.

Some of the Welsh volcanic bluestones could have previously stood as part of an even older monument, called Waun Mawn, in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire. Waun Mawn is believed to have been the third largest stone circle in the UK, with a diameter of 360ft, the same as the ditch surrounding Stonehenge. Both monuments were also built to align with the midsummer solstice sunrise.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Researchers believe that the Waun Mawn stones were dismantled, transported 150 miles and rebuilt in Salisbury, Wiltshire. There are a few remains still standing in Pembrokeshire and the stone type matches some of the pieces in Stonehenge. Whatsmore, one one of the Stonehenge stones includes a cross section which matches one of the gaps left at Waun Mawn.

“They looked in lots of different places and didn’t find anything. They were almost on the brink of giving up and then they looked at this particular place called Waun Mawn," said Professor Roberts, reported by the Independent.

“They decided that they were going to dig anyway and just see if they can find anything, and they found these ghosts of stone holes. And they were exactly the same diameter as the outer circle at Stonehenge."

News of the research broke during filming for the BBC documentary Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed. It's part of the Stones of Stonehenge research project, led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London.

Why were the Waun Mawn stones moved? Scientists think it could have been down to community migration and they wanted to take their monuments with them.

"It's as if they just vanished. Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones - their ancestral identities - with them," said Prof Parker Pearson, reported by the BBC.

"With an estimated 80 bluestones put up on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge and nearby Bluestonehenge, my guess is that Waun Mawn was not the only stone circle that contributed to Stonehenge.

"Maybe there are more in Preseli waiting to be found. Who knows? Someone will be lucky enough to find them."

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