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No. 15: Spring 1981

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Hidden Stonehenge

The configuration of standing stones at Stonehenge has been etched in everyone's mind by thousands of photographs and drawings down the centuries. There is also a "hidden" Stonehenge: traces of earlier configurations, hints of trials and errors, and just plain enigmas. The hidden or cryptic Stonehenge is found mostly by accident when some chance digging reveals a previously unrecorded hole, ditch, or buried artifact.

To illustrate, in May and June of 1979, a 24-meter trench was excavated along the path of a proposed telephone cable. The diggers found a completely unexpected, backfilled pit showing the impression of the standing stone that had once occupied it. Now called Stone 97, this feature was "erased" thousands of years ago for some unknown reason. Several such fortuitous finds hint that the Stonehenge we now see is like one of those paintings painted over an earlier painting. Apparently, we are just beginning to comprehend the history of this remarkable site.

(Pitts, M.W.; "Stones, Pits and Stonehenge," Nature, 290:16, 1981.)

From Science Frontiers #15, Spring 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss