Stonehenge -- A Timewatch Guide

Stonehenge -- A Timewatch Guide

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[Music] [Music] so stonehenge is our greatest monument it was shaped over centuries but to what purpose was it a temple to the sun or the moon an astronomical calendar or a shrine to dead ancestors [Music] now stonehenge may be about to give up
00:44
some of its secrets for the first time in nearly half a century a new archaeological dig has been permitted inside the sacred stone circle and the men who are leading the excavation are well aware of the significance of this moment i have to say it is a dream come true i've been dreaming of stonehenge and working in it and around it for so long
01:21
professors tim darvill and jeff wainwright believe they have finally unlocked the mystery of the monument [Music] the whole purpose of stonehenge is that it was a prehistoric lord if you like that people came here to be made well stonehenge as a healing center would attract not only people who were unwell and looking to get healed but people who were capable of helping them become healed and therefore in a sense stonehenge becomes the a e of southern england
01:56
their radical theory is based not only on the evidence from within the sacred circle but from forensic examination of some of the bodies buried around stonehenge it would have been excruciatingly painful he wouldn't have been able to move easy he wouldn't be able to bend his knee [Music] stonehenge has been shrouded in mystery for centuries but the stones and the bones are now telling a new story
02:26
of one of the wonders of the world [Music] uh [Music] stonehenge was built around the same time as the great pyramid at giza in egypt it was the biggest and most complicated building project in all of europe and it's intrigued and fascinated the
03:16
world for centuries [Music] most of the major archaeological digs took place in the last century the final one nearly 50 years ago in 1964 and they unearthed some basic facts about the monument we still don't know exactly when people started coming here but it's now believed that stonehenge was built on a site which previously held a wooden structure
03:56
and it was built in a cycle of four main phases more than four thousand years ago a small ring of stones stood for around 200 years then came a single ring of huge standing stones into which a ring of smaller stones was inserted then another outer circle of small stones was added before the circle of massive stones enclosed the whole thing
04:52
this was the final phase of construction stonehenge's heyday would last around 200 years until 1900 bc the stones alignment means that on the summer solstice the sun rises directly behind the main entrance to the monument that is why thousands of people gather here every year at this time to watch the sun rise others believe this signifies an ancient calendar
05:30
the cremated remains of 50 bodies found around the outside of the henge in the 1920s have convinced yet others the stones mark a place of ancestral worship [Music] but despite all of this speculation we still don't know why nor when the first stones were erected at the monument when stonehenge was effectively born the only way to discover that elusive date is to uncover organic material like a piece of bone or a grain that
06:04
might have been placed or dropped at the oldest level of the building work and it was that promise of getting an accurate date for the beginning of stonehenge that persuaded english heritage who managed the site to allow the first dig in a generation to take place the history of excavation at stonehenge is very unhappy lots of people have dug lots of poles here and of course all of them have been without the benefit of modern technology and so
06:37
we have an opportunity to find out something new archaeologically by a group of people who've thought things through incredibly carefully who've worked out their plans and got their technology lined up and we're at that moment now and we believe that this dig that's just about to happen has the chance of getting some dates which will genuinely unlock part of the mystery of stonehenge and put another piece of that crucial jigsaw in in which is giving us a dating sequence that will allow us to relate what's happening here
07:08
to what happens in the rest of prehistoric britain archaeological digs don't normally attract much media attention but stonehenge is very different when the first shovels break the sacred ground inside the stone circle press radio and television crews from britain and around the world are on hand to record the unique event
07:45
[Music] was a pretty incredible feeling to be doing research at stonehenge again after so many years when people haven't been able to get in here and do it it really was good it was quite emotional in a way that we can start lifting the turf and seeing what's underneath and um so long we've spent speculating about what's down there now we can finally look my first thought was that oh my god i've desecrated the monument you know it was really it was a really
08:17
funny feeling when the spade first went into the turf and i looked at the monument manager who was standing next to me and his face went pale you know oh my goodness what you doing to my wonderful monument but then i thought oh how exciting you know we're on our way and we're on our way the first time since 1964. the sacred nature of stonehenge is celebrated and maintained by the druids their belief in the power
08:50
of mythology and their reverence for their ancestors is centered on this ancient stone circle and they give the dig a special blessing now we're here to call upon us the ancestors and the spirit of the sacred land and especially this sacred circle so that when you excavate this land for the druids stonehenge is a holy place the walls of this temple are the huge sarsan stones which encircle the monument
09:28
but darwil and wainwright believe that these are the wrong stones to celebrate they think that it's the much smaller and less well-known blue stones that are essential to explaining the point and the purpose of stonehenge well these are the great iconic stones of stonehenge what everybody sees when they approach the sites and of course these assassins these are the local stones dragged perhaps 20 30 miles from off the plains sometimes called gray weathers and that's very appropriate right isn't it this great
10:00
color with the likeness great color up beautifully against the blue sky this morning in the light it's fantastic it's fantastic yeah yeah but these are the big ones right here and then something much smaller absolutely because these of course are the ones that they're really excited these are the blue stones well the stones we're looking at are the blue stains these are the ones that we see on the right of us now these are the small stones bringing those blue stones here really made the difference the target of our attention is the blue stones the blue stones blue stones blue stones please stand and actually dig the socket of the
10:34
foundation trench of one of these blue stones and because they are sure the blue stones were the first stones erected here and modern science is sure that they come from a long long way away the question is why go to all the bother of dragging them here they intend to use the dig to test a radical new theory the archaeologists argue that the builders of stonehenge thought that these blue stones had special healing powers
11:07
[Music] they can't dig all over the monument so they are concentrating on the area surrounding this single blue stone it lies here in between the inner ring of huge sarsons and the outer ring [Music] and they've chosen this small two and a half meter by three and a half meter area based on clues from earlier digs they also believe that the healing powers of the blue stones were so important that people broke off bits
11:43
to take away with them they hoped to find evidence of that during the dig but is there any other existing material to back up their healing theory are there any clues in skeletal remains from the stonehenge area timewatch went back into the vaults to re-examine some of the bones and we started with the most recent discovery
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six years ago an unremarkable housing estate three miles from stonehenge became the site of one of the most important archaeological discoveries in britain [Music] as the foundations were being dug for this school in the village of amesbury the builders quite literally struck gold they had unearthed the richest neolithic grave ever found in britain
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the burial site was four and a half thousand years old and awash in ancient treasures including rare gold jewelry the grave was also littered with flint arrowheads which led to the skeleton being called the amesbury archer in fact the school which is built on his grave is named after him [Music] and this skeleton was very unusual because it was so
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complete and well preserved [Music] jackie mckinley is a leading expert in the analysis of ancient bones so is there anything in this skeleton that might support darwin wainwright's healing theory [Music] now as soon as the skeleton was laid out there was one thing that struck us immediately obvious and that was that there had been some major trauma to this left knee something that had involved great force hitting that kneecap
14:11
possibly that person falling off something and hitting the ground with great falls one possible explanation for this injury could be a horse riding accident four and a half thousand years ago this was a new and dangerous way of getting around [Music] [Music] so what were the physical consequences of his injury the most obvious effect of this trauma is evident
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at the end of the femur or the thigh bone what you've got is a groove running down there towards the knee joint and a hole now that hole is evidence of infection within the bone itself the pus from which is draining through this hole i mean it would have been excruciatingly painful he wouldn't have been able to move easy it wouldn't be able to bend his knee he would have to change the way he walked professor tim darvill believes that this is what brought the amesbury archer
15:33
to stonehenge this is a man who was not awfully well when he got to this part of southern england this is a man who was probably motivated in his travels to find some relief to find some way of getting better and to come here perhaps to have found that perhaps we found a few extra years of life so the archer could possibly have visited stonehenge to cure his very serious knee problem [Music]
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and there's evidence in the bones to suggest that he'd lived with this injury for a very long time he suffered with this for years it wasn't something that happened just a week or so before he died it happened quite a long time years probably before he died and we can see that because there are changes to the skeleton particularly on the legs to the left and right side and this will become most apparent if i hold up these two femurs the right one is considerably heavier in build it's more robust it's a stronger bone
16:40
there's been wastage to this left side and the individual had been favoring or putting most weight on the right side which is consequently built up more strength in order to deal with that extra stress that's been put upon it darwil and wainwright believe that the archer came here to be healed drawn by the special qualities of the blue stones but that medicinal magic wasn't a local phenomenon
17:11
it had to be brought here the source of the henges healing power lies 150 miles to the west at khan menon in the preselli hills south wales these missed shrouded welsh hills hold a long association with the celts and their mysteries
17:46
an ancient stone circle a tiny forerunner of stonehenge lies here as do dozens of tombs [Music] the archaeologists know that the blue stones are from this area and they have known it for nearly 90 years [Music] a geological analysis in 1923 proved that the mineral makeup of the stones was a perfect match this is a wafer thin slice of stonehenge bluestone
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30 microns thick magnified under a microscope it's like a fingerprint of the rock revealing its constituent crystals and minerals and when compared like this the welsh blue stones and their stonehenge counterparts look the same [Music] and the evidence of the shaping of these stones litters the area
18:57
look at that just as if it was abandoned you could hear the swearing when that came yeah absolutely but it just shows you just lever these out of the ground and you've got the thing shot and then you start shaping it absolutely and look at that shaping along there you see it's really good it's been struck off as well yeah yeah now that's a beauty and it would fit into stonehenge like a hand and a glove this is the home of the blue stones of stonehenge but for darwil and wainwright what makes these welsh bluestones really special
19:32
are the springs which proliferate at the base of the outcrop springs which were once seen as sacred healing springs have a very long history around here and and even until comparatively recent times uh and indeed at the present these springs are visited by people who want to cure warts on their hands i went to one myself last weekend who want to cure a bad chest or want to
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cure headaches darvil and wainwright have discovered stones right next to ancient springs which are inscribed with neolithic markings [Music] but what really makes it for me is this stone here when you first found it do you remember that's right i do across it we've got four of these little cup marks here's the first one at the top there's the second one around here here's the third and here's the fourth one which is actually going off the edge of the rock
20:34
it's been broken off at some point and i can well believe this stone which is a bit loose already and it was really standing up somewhere just about where you're sitting now i don't think there's no doubt about it it must have been standing up at the head of the spring these stones were considered to be so powerful and so important that they were moved 150 miles to stonehenge there's no archaeological evidence been uncovered to tell us how it was done
21:06
but most archaeologists think they were put on a raft and floated around the welsh coast up the bristol channel and on along the river avon to stonehenge [Music] even for mariners of today these are treacherous inland waters for bronze age sailors the dangers must have been extreme to transport 80 plus blue stones 250 kilometers all the way from
21:41
priscilli in north pembrokeshire to stonehenge was one of the greatest engineering feats in prehistoric europe if not the greatest once they had completed their journey the bluestones transformed stonehenge they were the first stones erected at the monument and through all of the different phases of construction over the course of hundreds of years they held a central position in the circle
22:13
[Music] but just when did they make their journey [Music] [Music] the search is on to find the elusive piece of evidence that will date the beginning of stonehenge [Music] archaeologists work down from the top and we're not going to get the material that we wish to date
22:54
uh for to date the bluestone phase until the very last few days of the excavation the dig has been blessed with almost perfect weather and the foundations of stonehenge are slowly revealed as each separate layer of stone earth and gravel is excavated [Music] and the archaeologists appear to have uncovered new evidence which supports the idea of the power and importance of the blue stones in order to
23:25
investigate the stonehenge layer we cut it up into small squares and we took out each square separately and we took out each square as a series of separate layers so that we could quantify the amount of stones that are represented in each and i've got here the material which was extracted from just one of those small squares and you can see straight away that the amount of blue stone which is this pile here is far greater than the amount assassin which is this little pile just beside me here now this is the stuff which of course comes from these massive great big stones
23:56
um around the edge of the site this is the stuff which is essentially local and it's as you can see quite a light color this is the material imported from wales and well i would guess there's three times as much here as there is there so why is there more blue stone than sarson the sarsons are obviously much much bigger well i think what we've got here is is people flaking off pieces of stone in order to create little bits to take away
24:26
some of it is rubbish it's these sort of bits here but the piece i've got in my hand is just the sort of little sample that folk might want to take away it's actually quite nicely shaped as it turns out it's one they've left behind but you can well imagine them taking that off as an amulet as a talisman as a lucky charm of some sort and keeping it with them for a while in the hope that this is going to do them good and and heal them this discovery delights the archaeologists the preponderance of bluestone chips they believe marks the bluestone out
24:59
as being special and powerful but there's another crucial find that darwil and wainwright are interested in however it's not from this dig in 1976 a body was discovered in the ditch surrounding the monument which is not far from where they are digging [Music] perhaps the proximity of the grave to stonehenge could indicate that this was a very important person and if darvil and wainwright are right
25:33
someone looking to be healed this is the skeleton of a young adult male and unusually for archaeological material we can actually tell what he died of because this young man was shot several times from different angles probably by different people he was assailed from two different sides from both the left and the right side as far as i can tell the first arrows the lights have gone in when he was
26:14
upright and they've gone in on the right side [Music] you can see there are two small marks one at the top end of the ninth rib and one at the bottom end of the eighth rib a later shot appears to have hit him in the sternum he's also been hit on the left side of his body and this is the tenth rib so we're talking about this kind of area here but again towards the back
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and looking at the angle of this it looks like he's like to being hit while he was perhaps on the ground [Music] [Applause] he was hit again on the left hand side but much higher up in the rib cage and it's likely that he was down on the ground by this stage and maybe his arm was up slightly because he's been hit probably in that region there [Music] it seems clear that this young man was murdered but the key question is why
27:27
are there any clues in the way that he was buried that could be related to the special healing qualities of the monument dr alison sheridan from the national museum of scotland believes she knows the answer she's an archer and a specialist in bronze age burials it's intriguing it's not like a normal burial of its time it dates to around 2 300 2 200 and it's unusual in several respects in a formal burial um
28:02
you'd expect somebody to be lying on their side in a crouched position as if they're asleep and as you can see this guy is on his back okay there's been some disturbance to the body because animals have been burrowing here so that the ribs are moved around a little bit but essentially he's on his back and the other thing is that he hasn't been buried with any grave goods because normally in in graves of this time you would at least have a pot which may have contained something like ale for the journey into the afterlife because people certainly believe that you go somewhere after you die
28:33
he has nothing like that [Music] so why was this man murdered if we put it all together we know that he was shot in the back we know that he was buried in a shallow grave in the ditch close to the entrance he's on his back so they must have turned his body over it looks almost as though they just chucked him in from the way that his body is lying and to me that suggests that here was somebody who was trying to get into the sacred area but it was being protected by security
29:04
guards if you like and so he went somewhere where he shouldn't have gone and he's paid the heaviest price for it he may not have been buried with any grave goods but perhaps significantly three pieces of blue stone were found in the grave it may be that actually he had those pieces of stones about him it's just possible that when we see them in the grave it was that individual who'd snuck in taken some pieces of stone and was shot going out
29:40
[Music] this young man would almost certainly have known about the security surrounding the monument because he was from the stonehenge area [Music] and we know that because the secrets of where he lived are locked in his teeth hidden in the enamel are two tell-tale chemicals strontium and oxygen
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the strontium allows scientists to work out what kind of soil his food was grown in and the oxygen what kind of climate he grew up in once they have a readout the scientists can plot the information on specially prepared maps of the geology and climate of europe [Music] and they have examined 13 sets of bronze age teeth to try to track the movements of our
30:53
ancient ancestors [Music] if we can tell where the stonehenge intruder was from what about the more celebrated amesbury archer [Music] in an age where getting around was difficult did he travel far on his journey to stonehenge his teeth analysis revealed something quite unexpected and remarkable we analyzed two teeth
31:28
from the archer and the results we got were astounding they're one of those kind of scientific moments you know when you think wow you know wow because he turned out to have an oxygenisate value that couldn't have been picked up in britain he had to come from somewhere outside britain and to the east and so it was a really exciting result and when we looked at it he probably came from an area that included austria switzerland parts of germany the alpine region
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[Music] the alps are 600 miles from stonehenge but they were linked by a newly emerging pan-european culture a culture marked by beautiful pots called beakers this new beaker culture was driven by an economic revolution the hunting and small scale farming communities of the stone age were being replaced by a bigger and more intensive agrarian economy and farming allowed
32:39
people to create the time technology and wealth to take on the mammoth building project that stonehenge had become stonehenge is an epic project it's an outrageous project the idea to bring all these stones to one place would have involved thousands and thousands of people not just to carry the stones but to make the ropes to get the food to prepare the accommodation so it's a huge project the
33:10
scale of it is really quite extraordinary so is there any evidence of this culture being unearthed in the dig a bit of bronze age pottery get away oh ed well done there's a piece of beaker fantastic beaten a piece of beaker you little beauty my word look at that that's lovely that's very good very nice this is probably so far one of the best um and most important finds on the excavation because it really dates to the time
33:41
of stonehenge that we're interested in beaker pottery is very distinctive it's very thin as you see but also what is most important is it's got very particular types of decorations sometimes impressed with cord and in this case it's been in size that you see in various sections now we know that these pots are around stonehenge around 2000 bc are thereabouts and that there are very rich barriers associated with this particular type of pottery um so just one shirt represents a really beautiful vessel
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um unfortunately we don't have the rest of it obviously but this one shirt gives us a really good hint that there's beaker around stonehenge at this time [Music] this four thousand year old piece of pottery is the oldest thing that's been found yet but darvil and wainwright believe stonehenge is almost certainly older than that and the proof lies in the grave of the amesbury archer archaeologists know that the remains of the amesbury archer
34:46
date to around 2300 bc and if he came here to be healed that means the blue stones must have been here at that time [Music] and darvil and wainwright believe that the healing powers of the henge brought the archer back to this area on more than one occasion [Music] the clue is once again in the bones one other problem this individual suffered from
35:20
you can see the results of in his mandible and here you can see he's got two quite large holes in his teeth that's called dental caries and that's caused by the acids produced by bacteria that live in the mouth now that opens the tooth up to infection and that's what's happened in this case you've got infection that's tracked down into the sockets of the teeth and have formed a dental abscess this abscess was so severe that it burst through the jawbone
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[Music] of course there may have been herbal remedies and medicines around at this time but nothing that could take away the pain of an extremely serious and potentially fatal dental infection the pain is continuous throbbing excruciatingly tender to go anywhere near that tooth so he can't bite on anything so for two days he's not going to eat all right he's just not going to feel like eating he's not going to be
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able to chew anything anywhere near that tooth perhaps for longer because the tooth's already going to start getting tender before it gets to its peak so he's not going to be eating he's going to be in a lot of pain once the infection has progressed and he's actually burst through into the tissues he's going to start to feel unwell on top of it so his overall condition is fairly acute at that stage
36:55
unfortunately for the amesbury archer his painful toothache had developed into something life-threatening the main problem is is instead of being a localized problem just to his tooth once it starts spreading into the tissues it then becomes a systemic problem affecting possibly his whole body the infection that ensued from the tooth decay may well have killed him it may well have been the final straw well the tooth problem for the amesbury
37:28
archetype must have been absolutely critical and it must have been absolutely excruciating and i guess when you're in a great deal of pain and you have a working knowledge of where you may get some relief from that pain that's the place you're going to go to and hope that somebody can help you i think this is a well-traveled man who knew perhaps where he could find some relief and headed for it in this desperate condition could the aims re-archer have traveled to stonehenge on his own in fact anyone in life-threatening
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circumstances would need help to travel here and it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that they would be accompanied by members of their own family so did the amesbury archer make his last journey to stonehenge with someone close to him the clues lie in the grave that was excavated at the same time the amesbury archer's last resting place was uncovered these are the remains of a young adult male who came out of a grave adjacent to the amisbriacher and has therefore been
38:32
dubbed the archer's companion now we know they date to roughly the same phase and having two graves of the same same sort of date in the middle of the field suggests there was some relationship between them but in this case quite unusually we've been able to see that is the case from looking at the bones and the clue within the feet [Music] there's a very rare connection between two bones in their feet that only occurs in around two percent of the population and archaeologists believe that in this case
39:03
there is a very close family link so these two individuals may well have been father and son or nephew and uncle but they were obviously quite closely related [Music] and the teeth analysis of the arches companion may back up the skeletal science it shows that like the archer he may have spent some of his late childhood in the alpine regions of europe the early results of the survey of 13
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sets of bronze age teeth found near the monument may offer some support to the idea that stonehenge was a place of pilgrimage for people from far away i think at the moment we're running at about 50 percent of the burials we've looked at are not from the stonehenge area but the other side of it is that we are getting other people that definitely do come from the stonehenge area so these aren't just weird and anomalous results we can also show that the other 50 are entirely consistent with having been raised in and around the area of
40:13
stonehenge and so that in a way adds to my sort of belief that the the unusual ones are genuine and come from some distance away the dig is now reaching its end and for nearly two weeks they have been searching for that elusive piece of organic material that will allow them to definitively date the monument and on friday the 11th of april their diligence and patience is rewarded i'm very pleased to report that from one of the bluestone sockets we've
40:47
got a grain of cereal and that is exactly what we're looking for and i hope it's the first of many this tiny grain of cereal is the digs needle in a haystack it means they should now be able to get an accurate date for when the first stones were erected it's an enormous relief for the archaeologists it is a wonderful feeling i i have to say but i never really doubted it that tim and i are the dream team and we
41:18
we we came here to prove something to find something and we found it we told the world we're going to date stonehenge and um in a sense it's a risk but uh i was confident there would be something in here that we could use it would have been incredibly bad luck if there was nothing at all in there this single grain of cereal is fundamental to the stonehenge story it's a window into a world which was changing from hunting and small-scale farming into a new more intensive agrarian economy
41:52
so this is a very small carbonized fragment of grain it's a whole grain that has been charred by being thrown away in the fire if it wasn't for this grain if it wasn't for farming stonehenge couldn't have been built so the meaning of stonehenge and what stonehenge was used for is one thing but without having a large agricultural population here where they've got times of the year where they can sit down and relax rather than rush out and grab their food all the time without that large population we couldn't have actually built stonehenge stonehenge could not have been built so this
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enables the construction of the stone phase of stonehenge archaeologists are convinced that agriculture didn't just create the conditions for the construction of stonehenge it also heavily influenced the layout of the monument traditionally it was assumed that the orientation of stonehenge favored the midsummer solstice which is why thousands of people turn up here every year at this time many of them believe that they are taking part in a tradition that's
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thousands of years old but they've almost certainly come at the wrong time of year and they are looking in completely the wrong direction [Music] most archaeologists now believe that it was the mid-winter solstice which falls around the 21st of december every year that was important for the builders of stonehenge the entrance to the monument faces the remaining upright stone of the biggest
43:26
of the sarson trilothons at this one time of year as the sun sets its rays would have shone directly through the narrow gap between the trilithon's two upright stones in essence the layout of stonehenge is a very elaborate way of marking the passage of time the theory is they needed to mark midwinter because this was the symbolic beginning of the new agricultural year stonehenge is a symbol of the success of
44:03
this new agrarian economy a local community grew up around it a community which darvil and wainwright believe developed to service the needs of pilgrims seeking healing a community which would have had its fair share of doctors and physicians well of course stonehenge as a healing center would attract not only people who were unwell and looking to get healed but people who were capable of helping them become healed that people want to go there to find some not just simple relief but actually find people who are
44:35
the best of their kind the best magicians the best medicine men and women that they can have to help them out [Music] but is there any evidence to back up that theory could there be any clues in some of the skeletal remains [Music] like this unusual skull which was unearthed in a burial mound near to stonehenge [Music] it really is the most strange shape it's exaggerated in its shortness
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and how round it is and particularly how broad it is at the back and slightly flattened across this area here you can see it best from that side now the kind of thing that's likely to produce this kind of variation in shape is things like trauma at childbirth so it's likely that this this individual sat oddly in the womb um and as she was born maybe something got squeezed in the wrong direction and it just didn't really fully get back into the normal shape that you would see in
45:36
the skull so there's no obvious skeletal reason for her to come to stonehenge to be healed but dr chris knuzzle believes that she may have come here to be a healer [Music] basically this is a a difficult birth made physical in the adult and it's kind of a marker for that being that time of life being somewhat difficult um it's the kind of thing that one would associate with a special person in the past many ritual healers actually attain
46:12
their ability to heal others because they've overcome their own impairments and that might be contributing to this person's social makeup so it's not improbable that a minor disfigurement might actually be much more important if the the disfigurement is connected to the event of birth itself and that in itself might make this may have made this person quite special and occasionally their burial at a very famous monument
46:43
[Music] the dig is now nearly over the excavation has exposed a patchwork of holes which is evidence of the continued reshaping and restructuring of stonehenge over thousands of years [Music] and most of them were occupied by bluestones what the dig has uncovered is an apparent obsession with moving and chipping away at the blue stones
47:14
it's proved that there are three times as many blue stone flakes in the soil as sarson in the 12 days of the dig they have excavated eight cubic meters of soil and when they sift through it all they uncover 100 bits of organic material and select the 14 most promising pieces for carbon dating and all of these vital pieces of
47:45
evidence are sent to oxford university's specialist lab to undergo the most up-to-date carbon analysis [Music] this complex technology is designed to accurately date organic material [Music] the results are unexpected and startling it was previously thought that the blue stones arrived at stonehenge around 2600 bc but that was essentially an
48:33
educated guess the new accurate date from the stonehenge dig shows that the blue stones actually arrived in 2300 bc 300 years later than was thought now for the first time we have an accurate dating sequence for this most iconic of bronze age monuments the first stones to arrive were the blue stones we now know they were erected at the site in 2300 bc
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we don't know why but they were taken down 200 years later the great sarson trilothons were put up around 2100 bc the blue stones were then slotted into the center of that ring hinting at their symbolic importance then another outer circle of blue stones was added [Music] before the massive circle of sarsons enclosed the whole thing
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[Music] this was the heyday of the monument and it lasted for about 200 years until 1900 bc over the next 4 000 years stonehenge fell into a long slow decline neglect theft and time producing the iconic structure we're left with today and what's even more remarkable is that the new date for the arrival of the blue
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stones at stonehenge coincides exactly with the date of the burial of the amesbury archer [Music] our new date for stonehenge actually gives us if you like a glimpse of a moment in prehistory when things are happening at and around stonehenge and it's quite extraordinary that the date of the ames pre-archer is identical with our new date for the blue stones of stonehenge these two things happening within living
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memory of each other for sure is something very very important they even think that the archer may have had an important role to play in promoting the healing powers of the henge this is a very significant person the grave goods that eventually go into his grave represent the richest collection of material that we have from the whole of northwest europe at this time this is a person with connections this is a person with influence this is a person who's traveled a great distance to be at stonehenge for a particular
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purpose i'm sure this is just sort of person who when they appear at stonehenge and recover from their ailments can actually go out there and be an evangelist for this great monument [Music] but there is one final unexpected revelation from the carbon dating process a tiny fragment of organic material showed that people had been at stonehenge since 7000 bc
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that's 9 000 years when we got the date of 7000 bc it's about 7200 that was absolutely fantastic because we knew mesodic people the middle stone age the hunter-gatherer people were living in the area we're building uh upright pine posts in the area of stonehenge why they would chose that particular landscape is still a mystery but this now proves beyond all doubt that they were at stonehenge thousands of years before stonehenge was even conceived as a
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monument up until now the earliest evidence for any kind of activity on the site of the monument is around 3600 bc this new date pushes the stonehenge story back another 3500 years for the archaeologists this historic dig at stonehenge has surpassed all of their expectations when we look back over the results of that tiny little hole it's hard to imagine that we could
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actually have got so much out of such a small area we've actually managed to rewrite whole sections of stonehenge's history from those very small excavations it took tim and i i think about an hour around the kitchen table to plant it but that small hole produced big results [Music] the blue stones for years the poor
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relations of the imposing sarsons are now assuming the central role in understanding the monument they are after all the center of the henge and the reason for that might now be becoming clear this may have been a place where the sick came to get better the injured came to get healed to discuss their theory log on to our open university hosted forum bbc dot co dot uk forward slash
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time watch now [Music] we're off to china where richard 40 uncovers the dinosaur pompeii fossil wonderlands continues next then catch up with brand new comedy we're stopping in with the walshes at half past midnight [Music] you

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