Henge, human remains found in Warwickshire

An archaeological excavation of a field slated for development in Newbold-on-Stour near Stratford, Warwickshire, has discovered traces of a Neolithic henge and rare human remains dating back almost 6,000 years to around 4,000 or 3,000 B.C. A geophysical survey indicated the possible presence of something of archaeological interest resulting in a preliminary dig last year, but this year’s excavation found that what archaeologists suspected was a burial mound was in a fact a ritual site of religious significance.

Aerial view of circular henge remains and burials. Photo by Archaeology Warwickshire.The henge was a simple earthwork structure, not the wooden or grand monumental stone architecture of Britain’s more famous henges. It was composed of a segmented circular trench with an exterior bank built from the dug up soil. This ditch and embankment combination would not have had a defensive purpose, but rather served to enclose the interior circular space to mark it out for whatever religious or celebratory uses to which it was dedicated. What’s left of it today is the shallow circular ditch with an inner diameter of about nine meters (30 feet).

Five articulated skeletons were found buried in one of the segments of the circular trench. This is an exceptionally rare find, not only because of the great historical significance of the Neolithic henge context, but because the soil in the area is extremely acidic and ancient bone rarely survives at all. Intact, articulated skeletons, especially ones as old as these, are a gift from the archaeological gods.

The people had been buried carefully as none of the bodies had been placed on top of another. The three middle burials were facing west, out from the henge, while the two outer ones were facing east, into the henge.

The apparently deliberate arrangement suggests the people being buried were a group of some kind – possibly family members – and the people burying them knew where the others were buried. […]

Archaeology Warwickshire Project Officer Nigel Page, who excavated the site said: […]

Henge burial detail. Photo by Archaeology Warwickshire.“The skeletons have been recovered from the site and will undergo scientific analysis to try to answer the many questions that their presence on the site has raised. For example, it is hoped that the sex and age of the people can be established and it may also be possible to determine if there was a family connection between them.

“The rare survival of the skeletons will provide an important opportunity to gain a unique insight into the lives of the people who not only knew the henge and its landscape, but who were probably some of the region’s earliest residents”.

Radiocarbon dating results on the skeletons are expected in June.

Archaeology Warwickshire Business Manager Stuart Palmer said: “This exciting discovery is of national importance as it provides tangible evidence for cult or religious belief in late Stone Age Warwickshire.

“Amazingly it is the second such find by the team. In 2015 a group of four henges was excavated in Bidford although the burials at this site were all cremated. Prior to this there were no known henges in Warwickshire leading some archaeologists to believe that a different kind of cult was prevalent in the region.”


3 thoughts on “Henge, human remains found in Warwickshire

  1. Fingers crossed that the archaeology gods proffer sufficient DNA :thanks: to determine who’s who, in some detail.

  2. Keeping similarly complex burial sites in mind, the ‘Henge’ itself might be even more interesting. At best, DNA testing might reveal where these people came from, and which particular relations they had successfully managed to keep secret so far (feel free to sing along):

    There was Mama and Papa and a boy who was grown
    He wanted to marry, have a wife of his own

    He found a young girl that suited him nice
    And he went to his Papa to ask for advice
    His Papa said: “Son, I have to say no,
    This girl is your sister, but your mama don’t know”

    ..Oh, woe is me, Shame and scandal in the Family

    He went to his Mama and covered his head
    And told his Mama what his Papa had said
    His Mama she laughed, she say, “Go man, go
    Your Daddy ain’t your Daddy, but your Daddy don’t know.”

    ..Oh, woe is me, Shame and scandal in the Family


  3. Every time I see the word ‘henge’, I’m reminded of Eddie Izzard’s skit about Stonehenge… 😆

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