Saturday, September 28, 2013

STONEHENGE -- AN ANCIENT CEREMONIAL PATHWAY UNEARTHED

[I'm always delighted to find "new" info on Stonehenge as I am the author w/ Caroline Malone of a Oxford University Press book for young people on Stonehenge. Lots of new stuff since we wrote it several years ago.]

An ancient ceremonial pathway linking Stonehenge and the nearby River Avon has been unearthed during work to close the road alongside the monument. Two ditches buried beneath the A344 represent either side of the Avenue, a processional approach aligned with the sunrise of the summer solstice. Its connection with Stonehenge had been severed when the A344 was built hundreds of years ago. The find was made near the Heel Stone, about 24 metres from the monument.

English Heritage's Heather Sebire called it "the missing piece of the jigsaw", as the Avenue had been difficult to identify on the ground, but is clearly visible in aerial photographs. She said: "The part of the Avenue that was cut through by the road has obviously been destroyed forever, but we were hopeful that archaeology below the road would survive.

National Trust archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall said it confirms "with total certainty" that Stonehenge and its Avenue were linked. Work is currently being carried out to restore the A344 alongside the monument to grass and build a new visitor center. English Heritage said the work would "restore the dignity" of the stones' setting and "minimize the intrusion of the modern world".

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