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article imageStonehenge dig finds 6,000-year-old encampment

By Stephen Morgan     Dec 19, 2014 in Lifestyle
Archaeologists are saying that an amazing new discovery near the ancient Stonehenge site in the UK may "rewrite British history."
Experts digging at Stonehenge have unearthed a 6,000-year-old encampment. The discovery was made in October, but it is only now that carbon dating has revealed the true age of the site.
The BBC is reporting that archaeologists say "scientifically tested charcoal" found at the site has "revealed that it dated from around 4000 BC." Called the Blick Mead site, it is about 1.5 miles (2.4km) from Stonehenge itself.
David Jacques from the University of Buckingham, who made the discovery, said they have found the remains of giant cattle, known as aurochs, which were eaten by early hunter gatherers and other evidence of feasting such as burnt flints and tools. Earlier digs have also found the remains of frogs legs eaten by local inhabitants 7,000 years ago.
Archaeologists also believe that people were attracted to the area because of its natural spring and because a a rare algae changed the colour of local stones from brown to pink.
Dating from the time of the pyramids and before, Amesbury is the longest continually occupied place in the UK. Spanning a time from when Britain was still linked to the European continent to when it formed as an island, Blick Mead is the oldest Mesolithic encampment ever found in the UK.
"It connects the early hunter gatherer groups returning to Britain after the Ice Age to the Stonehenge area, all the way through to the Neolithic in the late 5th Millennium BC." said Jacques. The Telegraph reports that experts believe that it was constructed as some sort of monument to the ancestors of Neolithic Britons.
The BBC also quotes Andy Rhind-Tutt, a former mayor and current chairman of Amesbury Museum, which part-funded the dig, who said the discovery could "provide what archaeologists have been searching for centuries - the answer to the story of the pre-history of Stonehenge."
According to the Guardian, there is evidence of building structures which still needs to be analysed and confirmed. Back in September, research at the site identified a 6,000 year old, 33m-long timber building probably used for ritual burials. The building of the famous circle of giant stones, which gave Stonehenge its name, started much later between 3100 BC and 2,000 BC.
However, there is one fly in the ointment and that is government plans to build a 2 mile (3 km) tunnel to overcome congestion from the main road near Stonehenge. Archaeologists fear this could undermine all their research on the recently discovered remains.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport has tried to reassure opponents that this wont go ahead without consultation with interested parties.
"English Heritage and National Trust are supportive of our plans, and we will ensure sites of cultural or historical significance are safeguarded as we progress with the upgrade." he said.
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