5,000-year-old monument may contain ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge

A team of archaeologists and students uncover a ‘House of Dead’ dated at 5,000 years, which could contain ancestors of those living around Stonehenge.

A team of archaeologists and students from the University of Reading have uncovered a ‘House of Dead’ dating back 5,000 years, which could contain the ancestors of those who lived around Stonehenge.

The long barrow burial mound was discovered in a farmer’s field in a place known as Cat’s Brain, which lies between Stonehenge and Avebury. It may contain human remains buried there in around 3,600 BC, however, the burial site has gone unnoticed until it was spotted by aerial photography.

The long barrow consists of two ditches flanking what appears to be a central building. Researchers have said that this may have been covered with a mound made of earth dug from ditches, and flattened over many centuries.

Dr Jim Leary, Director of the Archaeology Field School, said:

""Opportunities to fully investigate long barrows are virtually unknown in recent times, and this represents a fantastic chance to carefully excavate one using the very latest techniques and technology.

""Members of the public now have the chance to visit us and see prehistory being unearthed as we search for human remains on the site. Discovering the buried remains of what could be the ancestors of those who lived around Stonehenge would be the cherry on the cake of an amazing project.""

This is the first long barrow to be fully investigated in Wiltshire since the 1960s. The monument dates back to the early Neolithic period, which saw Britain’s first agricultural communities and monument builders.

Now the top soil has been cleared, there is a clear outline of the long barrow ditches, as well as the footprint of the building. The team will now excavate the archaeological remains and recover artefacts, bones, and other environmental evidence, to be analysed.

Amanda Clarke, co-director of the Archaeology Field School, said:

""This incredible discovery of one of the UK's first monuments offers a rare glimpse into this important period in history. We are setting foot inside a significant building that has lain forgotten and hidden for thousands of years.""

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