'Blue Stonehenge' May Be Funeral Complex
Gregory Katz, Associated Press
Stonehenge | Discovery News Video
Oct. 7, 2009 -- The discovery of a small prehistoric circle of stones near Stonehenge may confirm the theory that the mysterious monument in southwest England was part of a massive funeral complex built around a river, researchers said Tuesday.
The new find shows that the second stone circle -- dubbed "Bluehenge" because it was built with bluestones -- once stood next to the River Avon about 1.75 miles (2.8 kilometers) from Stonehenge, one of Britain's best loved and least understood landmarks.
The find last month could help prove that the Avon linked a "domain of the dead" -- made up of Stonehenge and Bluehenge -- with an upstream "domain of the living" known as Durrington Wells, a monument where extensive signs of feasting and other human activity were found, said Professor Julian Thomas, co-director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project.
Project director Mike Parker Pearson said it is possible that Bluehenge was the starting point of a processional walk that began at the river and ended at Stonehenge, the site of a large prehistoric cemetery.
"Not many people know that Stonehenge was Britain's largest burial ground at that time," he said. "Maybe the bluestone circle is where people were cremated before their ashes were buried at Stonehenge itself."
There were very few signs of human life found around Stonehenge and Bluehenge, researchers said, lending credence to the idea that it was used as a funeral site, especially since there were signs that many human beings were cremated there.