Researchers shed light on why and how Stonehenge was built

Excavation of two quarries in Wales by a team of archaeologists and geologists - including Dr Rob Ixer, a researcher with the Department of Geology - has confirmed they are sources of Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’, shedding light on how they were quarried and transported.

New research by the team published today in Antiquity presents detailed evidence of prehistoric quarrying in the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, helping to answer long-standing questions about why, when and how Stonehenge was built.

Geologists have known since the 1920s that the bluestones were brought to Stonehenge from somewhere in the Preseli Hills, but only now has there been collaboration with archaeologists to locate and excavate the actual quarries from which they came.

The team has identified the outcrop of Carn Goedog as the main source of Stonehenge’s ‘spotted dolerite’ bluestones and the outcrop of Craig Rhos-y-felin as a source for one of the ‘rhyolite’ bluestones.

The new discoveries may also help to understand why Stonehenge was built. The bluestones could have been erected at Stonehenge around 2900 BC, long before the giant sarsens were put up around 2500 BC.

The team of scientists includes researchers from UCL/Leicester, University of Manchester, Bournemouth University, University of Southampton, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

Further excavations are planned for 2016.