The Quest for the Missing Dead
In Part II we discussed Stonehenge as a prehistoric cemetery and the number of individuals buried within. The removal of the remains of over 50 people from Aubrey Hole 7 has permitted the Stonehenge Riverside Project to formulate a revised Stonehenge sequence.
The Stonehenge Sequence
Richard Atkinson is generally credited with formulating the Stonehenge sequence in 3 Stages following his excavations in the 1950's. Atkinson returned to the site in the 1960's and again finally in 1978.  He has been heavily criticised by other archaeologists for not releasing his notes (except in book form) and restricting access to the records of William Hawley's 1920's excavations.
William Flinders Petrie carried out a detailed three year survey of the monument between 1874 and 1880 and was probably the first to suspect and record, the likelihood of Stonehenge being constructed in stages. Petrie introduced the megalith numbering system still in use today and proposed that the Stonehenge earthwork was of an earlier date than the stones enclosed within.
In his excavations William Hawley identified the “Stonehenge Layer”, a continuous layer of debris just below the turf. Hawley was of the opinion that the debris was the result of stone chippings from the dressing of the megaliths at the site, concluding that any features covered by this layer had to be prior to the arrival of the stones. He noted that the ditch appeared to have silted up sometime before the working of the megaliths. As his excavations continued, Hawley determined that the monument was constructed over three periods: firstly, the ditch and bank; a wide circle of stones in the Aubrey Holes second; and finally, all the stones erected in the centre. Hawley's notion was lost amongst his notes.
Some thirty years later Atkinson produced an elaboration of Hawley's model of three phases of construction which remained the text book standard for forty years which is necessary to repeat briefly here for comparative purposes:
Period I (1800 BC)
Bank and ditch, Heel Stone and Aubrey Holes dug but did not hold wooden or stone uprights but many found to contain cremated human bones.
Period II (1650 – 1500 BC)
At least 80 bluestones set in the Q & R holes forming an incomplete double circle in the centre of the site, with entrance on the north-east side, opposite which a large pit may have held the Altar stone. Original causeway widened by about 25 feet as axis realigned to mid-summer sunrise. Avenue created.
Period IIIa (after 1500 BC)
The double circle of bluestones (still unfinished) dismantled. Sarsen circle and trilithon horseshoe erected. Slaughter and Station stones set in place.
20 of the dismantled bluestones, carefully selected and dressed, erected in an oval setting inside the trilithon horseshoe. This bluestone setting contained at least two miniature copies of the sarsen trilithons. Two rings of Y & Z holes dug to receive the 60 remaining dismantled bluestones but for some reason never erected.
Uprights of the dressed bluestone oval re-set into the bluestone horseshoe. The remainder of the bluestones were set in the circle between the sarsen circle and sarsen trilithons.
Atkinson suggested that all three stages of Period III followed closely on one another with the monument complete by 1400 BC.
In 1995 Rosamund Cleal et al, aware the standard chronology had not been “officially” updated for forty years produced a new report with the aim of bringing together all the evidence from the major excavations over the period 1901-1964.  This work tabled a new series of Phases of construction commencing in 2950-2900 BC, some one thousand years earlier than Atkinson's model, which is no surprise considering the advances in modern dating techniques. Cleal et al, stated that the wooden posts of Phase I were removed from the Aubrey Holes and replaced with cremation burials in Phase II c. 2900-2400 BC. Phase II also included numerous post holes indicating timber structures but without any clear configurations to suggest their form or function. Finally the stones were erected in Phase III c. 2550-1600 BC, with the earthwork of the Avenue extended out towards the river Avon as one of the last features to be laid out.
The New Sequence
Over the past few years, from 2003 to 2008, culminating in the discovery of “Bluestonehenge” in 2009, the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has carried out much of the exploratory work at the Stonehenge world heritage site, including the neolithic “village” at Durrington Walls and the controversial excavation of the Aubrey Hole 7 containing the reburied human remains.
In June the SRP held their annual meeting in English Heritage’s Bristol offices and tentatively announced a new Stonehenge Sequence, which Mike Pitts has subsequently published on his website,  offering a substantial revision to the sequence of construction of the monument, with stones present at the site from the very beginning:
First stage: 3000–2935 BC
Circular ditch and bank, enclosing 56 pits of the Aubrey Holes, holding bluestones. The monument's main opening is to the north-east and a narrower entrance to the south. Human cremation burial occurs in and around the Aubrey Holes and the ditch and bank. Most of these burials are of adult males, and the practice continues till at least 2300 BC, constituting the largest known cemetery of its type.  The timber posts at the main entrance are thought to belong to this stage. During this time a second stone circle, Bluestonehenge, was built beside the river Avon, consisting of around 25 bluestones possibly marking the site where the bodies were cremated prior to the remains being taken to Stonehenge for interment.
Second stage: 2640–2480BC
Lintelled circle and the trilithon horseshoe constructed of sarsen, erected along with an arc of bluestones (dismantled from the Aubrey Holes and Bluestonehenge?) standing the Q and R Holes. Four Station Stones erected near the Aubrey Hole ring. Two of the Station Stones (now missing) are then partially covered by low mounds known as the South and the North Barrow. The South Barrow is raised over the floor of a D-shaped building immediately east of the southern entrance into the enclosure, from which timber posts mark the way towards the centre of the site. Three large sarsens stand at the north-eastern entrance (today only the recumbent Slaughter Stone remains); the Heelstone stands beyond within a circular ring ditch.
Third stage: 2470–2280BC
The 1.75 mile long earthwork known as the Avenue is constructed from Stonehenge to the river Avon, where it meets a small henge dug at the site of Bluestonehenge following removal of the stones in the Second stage.
Fourth stage: 2280–2030BC
The bluestones having been removed from the Q & R holes are rearranged to form a circle between the sarsen trilithons and the outer sarsen ring, and an oval bluestone setting within the sarsen trilithon horseshoe.
Fifth and sixth stages: 2030–1520BC
A ring of pits known as the Z Holes is dug outside the sarsen circle, and apparently some time later a ring of pits beyond this known as the Y Holes.
This revision to the Stonehenge sequence is yet to receive peer review and is likely to undergo minor changes but the six stage model is unlikely to become the accepted wisdom by all. 
Onto Part IV - The Empty Long Barrows
1. Richard Atkinson – Stonehenge, H.Hamilton, 1956. (Revised edition, Penguin, 1979).
2. Rosamund Cleal, R. Montague, K.E. Walker, illustrated by L. Coleman, Stonehenge in Its Landscape: Twentieth-Century Excavations, English Heritage, 1995.
3. Mike Pitts - A really new stage in Stonehenge history? Digging Deeper, 10 June, 2010
4. Mike Pitts – Hengeworld, Arrow, 2001, in which Pitts first proposed that as many as 240 individuals could be buried at Stonehenge.
5. It is intended that this revised Stonehenge sequence will appear as a future paper by Tim Darvill, Pete Marshall, Mike Parker Pearson and Geoff Wainwright. Parker Pearson has already published two new essays in 2010 with revised dating sequences: 'Stonehenge', in Encyclopaedia Britannica, and 'If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge' with M Aronson, National Geographic.
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