Could Stonehenge Be A Rebuilt Stone Circle From Wales?
Down at the Waun Mawn site in West Wales, four stones are the only remnants of what was most likely Britain’s third-biggest stone circle. The question that has flummoxed all through the ages is, was the strange monument taken apart and shifted as much as 230 kilometers to the Salisbury Plain so it could be rebuilt as Stonehenge?
Largely, the find solves the mystery around the reason why Stonehenge’s bluestones were shifted so far away. This was after all the other stone circles were put up close to their quarries. The site at Waun Mawn is close to the bluestone quarries, which were located only in the last decade.
Archaeological excavations carried out at the site in 2018 showed empty stone holes. They indicate that four more stones were a part of a circle that existed earlier. Charcoal and sediments found at the site have been put through scientific dating and it confirms that the Waun Mawn stone circle was built around 3400 BC.
When it was discovered that monoliths were extracted before the building of Stonehenge’s first stage in 3000 BC, the team decided to reinvestigate the Waun Mawn stones nearby. The intention was to investigate whether these were what remained of a circle of stones from quarries that were taken apart to build Stonehenge.
The Stones Show A Similarity
The results of the research reveal more about Stonehenge. The monuments are aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise. The circle at Waun Mawn had a diameter of 110 meters, as did the ditch enclosing Stonehenge. Therefore, it’s Britain’s third-largest stone circle with only Avebury in Wiltshire and Stanton Drew in Somerset being larger. Along with the circles in north Wales and Cumbria, it’s also one of the earliest.
There’s yet another link. One of Stonehenge’s bluestones comes with an unusual cross-section, which is similar to one of the four holes that are found at Waun Mawn. The chippings that were found in that hole are of a rock type similar to the stones at Stonehenge.
The site at Waun Mawn further confirms that the Preseli region in Wales was one of the densely settled and important places during the Neolithic Age in Britain. The region had a concentration of dolmens, which were tombs, and there were large enclosures as well. It’s believed that the bluestones at Stonehenge came from Wales’ Preseli Hills.
It’s held that these were the first stones to be erected at Stonehenge 5,000 years back—centuries earlier than the bringing of the larger sarsen stones just 24kms to the site of the monument. However, there’s virtually no evidence of any activity in the 1,000 years that followed 3000 BC. People might have migrated along with their stones to other locations.
Isotopic analysis carried out on people buried at Stonehenge recently reveals that 15 percent of the bluestones came from Britain’s west, most likely Wales. An estimated 80 bluestones erected on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge and the nearby Bluestonehenge reveal that Waun Mawn wasn’t the only stone circle that was behind the creation of Stonehenge. Preseli has more stone circles yet to be found.
The Origins of Stonehenge
The oldest story about the origins of Stonehenge can be dated back to the 12th century. The story as recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth talks of the legend of Merlin leading an army into Ireland to capture the Giants’ Dance, a magical stone circle so that it could be rebuilt as a memorial to the dead—Stonehenge.
The largely fake History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey contains only a few accurate facts. Despite that, this story about Stonehenge has made historians curious about whether the story could have an iota of truth in it. There’s no writing in prehistory. However, the legend of Stonehenge’s origins being passed down by word of mouth through these thousands of years may be highly unlikely, but it can’t be completely written off either.
Looking For A Lost Stone Circle
It was quite a daunting challenge locating the Waun Mawn stone circle. Geophysics remained unproductive although it was in 2010 itself that the remaining four stones were thought to be a circle’s part. However, it was in 2017 that a trial excavation at Waun Mawn was able to find two empty stone holes. With the ground not being conducive to geophysics, only digging could unearth the buried stone holes.
Waun Mawn’s Missing Stones
Excavations revealed six holes that the missing stones of Waun Mawn stood on. There were likely 30-35 stones at the complete circle of Waun Mawn. The arrangement of these stones was more irregular than what was found at Stonehenge. However, there were two positioned as ‘gunsights’ to form an entrance aligned to the midsummer solstice sunrise. Dating using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) which involves measuring when quartz was exposed to sunlight the last time, indicates that the circle was built between 3600 and 3200 BC.
The Stonehenge Mystery Continues
There are suggestions that Stonehenge was perhaps a place for ancient astronomy, a tool to predict agricultural seasons. Moreover, some still believe that Stonehenge was a religious monument. What remains an endearing mystery is how Stonehenge was built. Historians are still looking to explain accurately how the bluestones were moved more than 200 kilometers from Wales to Salisbury. Stonehenge, even after centuries, remains shrouded in mystery.
While many similarities were found between the bluestones at Wales and Salisbury, there is nothing to clarify why the stone circle was shifted from Wales to Salisbury. It’s only putting the threads together that has led us to believe that Stonehenge might be a structure rebuilt from the Waun Mawn stone circle.
There’s mention of the origins of Stonehenge only in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain which however contains only limited accurate information. The story of Stonehenge’s origins may have been passed down through generations by word of mouth. The enigmatic legend of Stonehenge still lives on.