Research Press Release

Archaeology: Some Stonehenge burials may have Welsh origin

Scientific Reports

August 3, 2018

Some of the Neolithic individuals buried at Stonehenge did not originate from the local area, suggests a study in Scientific Reports. New analyses of cremated human remains indicate that some of the people buried at the site came from other parts of western Britain - most likely west Wales - and some may have been brought to the site for burial only.

Previous research has focused predominantly on Stonehenge's construction and little is known about the people who lived or were buried there, despite it being one of the largest Late Neolithic burial sites in Britain.

Christophe Snoeck and colleagues used strontium isotope analysis to reanalyse bone fragments from the cremated remains of 25 distinct individuals from the site, dating from between 3180 to 2380 BC. The authors compared these results with records from modern plants, water and dentine data from Britain. The findings suggest that 15 of the individuals were local to Stonehenge. The other ten did not have any recent connection to the region and probably spent at least the last ten years of their lives in western Britain, the authors conclude.

The study also indicates that the cremation of the remains took place under various conditions and using various types of fuel. The remains identified as local to the site suggest a funeral pyre constructed from wood grown in an open setting consistent with the Wessex landscape. The other remains indicate the pyre wood was grown in dense woodlands like those found in west Wales. The authors suggest this shows that some of the remains at the site were brought specifically to be buried there having been cremated elsewhere.

DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-28969-8 | Original article

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