Vast 5,600-yr-old religious complex discovered near Stonehenge

London: A huge religious complex built about 5,650 years ago has been discovered near Britain’s most famous prehistoric monument Stonehenge, a finding which shows that entire area was even more sacred and ritually active than previously believed.

Built over 1,000 years before the great stones of Stonehenge were erected – the 200 metre-diameter complex is the first major early Neolithic monument to be discovered in the Stonehenge area for more than a century.

The complex, located just over two kilometres away from the Stonehenge, consisted of about 950 metres of segmented ditches and earthen banks arranged in two concentric circles.

Archaeologists have located and excavated around 100 metres worth of the outer ditch. It is not yet known how much of the rest of the monument has survived.

Causewayed enclosures – so-called because their ditches are ‘crossed’ by multiple causeways – are among the most enigmatic of prehistoric monuments.

Their precise original function remains a mystery, but evidence suggests that they were used for a mixture of ceremonial, religious, political and mortuary roles.

Located at Larkhill, Wiltshire, the newly found causewayed enclosure, dating from around 3650 BC, is in an area covered by modern military buildings and other installations, the ‘Independent’ reported.

The complex was discovered as developers were preparing to build houses on Ministry of Defence land to accommodate British Army personnel returning from Germany. Its discovery strongly suggests that the remains of other important prehistoric monuments probably still survive undetected in the area.

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