Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from University College London (UCL), made a breakthrough last month in the understanding of the Neolithic construction after the discovery of a similar ancient stone structure at Waun Mawn, in the Preseli Hills. Experts now theorise the dismantled monument in Wales became the “building blocks” of the Stonehenge attraction that stands in Salisbury, Wiltshire, today. But anthropologist and author Mary-Ann Ochota uncovered some intriguing details about the site when she visited it as part of the English Heritage’s “Secrets of our Sites” video.
Speaking to viewers, she said: “I’m here at Stonehenge now with Susan Greaney, an English Heritage archaeologist.
“The sites that we are decoding today are Woodhenge and Stonehenge, both bearing the name ‘henge’.”
Ms Greaney explained how the structure got this part of its name.
She said: “A henge is a circular earthwork monument surrounding other things.
“Sometimes it is stone circles, sometimes timber circles.
“We are stood now in the ditch of Stonehenge, the henge of Stonehenge.”
But Ms Ochota probed why some had claimed it “isn’t actually a proper henge”.
To which Ms Greaney responded: “Henges are built between about 3,000BC and 2,500BC.
“This is a particularly early one.
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“Those pits might have held stones or posts, we’re not quite sure.
“But they were also used to place the cremated death.
“There’s 500 years of history at Stonehenge playing out before they put the stones up.”
Earlier in the video, Ms Ochota detailed how animal remains were previously found at the nearby Durrington Walls – 38,000 bones from pigs and cattle.
She continued: “From isotope analysis of the bones, we know that some of those animals were raised in Wales, and others in northern Britain.
“They must have come here on the hoof in order to be fresh meat – we don’t know whether that means were complex trading networks across Britain at that time, or people were coming here with their animals.
“When the remains of these animal meat feasts were thrown into the ground, there was still plenty of meat attached to the bones, which indicates that they could afford to throw meat away.
“So it challenges all our preconceptions about what life in the Neolithic was like because we know that at least some people were eating very well.
“They were eating so well they could afford food wastage.”