A new digital reconstruction of the monument, discovered by the Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) at the Southern terminus of the Avenue, affectionately dubbed “Bluestonehenge”, suggests that the stone circle may have been oval, and not round, suggesting the site mirrors the layout of the bluestone oval, or horseshoe, at the centre of the Stonehenge monument.
For many years archaeologists have pondered where the bluestones were held during the many construction phases at Stonehenge. They must have been removed for many years after the bluestone arrangement in the Q&R holes was dismantled and the sarsen construction finalised. They may have been simply stashed or used in another monument. The site of this bluestone monument remained elusive until 2009 when SRP uncovered nine stone holes, initially identified as part of a circular ring originally thought to hold 25 - 26 standing stones at the west bank of the river Avon at West Amesbury. The excavations revealed that the 10 metre (33 feet) diameter stone monument was surrounded by a henge - comprising a circular ditch 23.4m wide with an external bank of 25m diameter. Although no stones were found, the nine pits have been interpreted as once holding bluestones based on the identical characteristics with the Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge which, according to the SRP revised sequence, held the first stone settings at Stonehenge, considered likely to have been erected around the time that the ditch and bank were dug in 3015–2935BC.
The new Bluestonehenge model was created as part of the forthcoming smartphone app ‘Journey to Stonehenge’, using a low level aerial image by Adam Stanford. SRP had placed upturned buckets into the bluestone socket holes at Bluestonehenge. Stanford noticed that a bucket on the far right had been missed out of the model. To accommodate this off-lined bucket Henry Rothwell, Creative Lead at Heritage Data Solutions, tried expanding the circumference of the circle to make it fit, but that made it far too large. But when they tried an oval it lined up perfectly, ending up with a configuration which is very similar to the bluestone oval in the centre of Stonehenge, suggesting a correlation between the monuments that lie at each end of the Avenue.
Further digital modelling has revealed that not only does the Bluestonehenge oval fit inside just as it was, but that it is of similar in size, and practically identical in orientation as the bluestone horseshoe at Stonehenge. "Bluehenge" (as some are now calling it) is either aligned directly with the horseshoe at Stonehenge, or, possibly, is the horseshoe at Stonehenge.
SRP propose that at around the same time of the construction of the bluestone horseshoe at Stonehenge, Bluestonehenge was dismantled, the 25 - 26 bluestones being removed from the circle, or oval, whilst a henge, originally thought to be a Bronze Age barrow, was constructed there at the terminus of the Avenue by the river Avon. These bluestones, along with the 56 that formerly stood in the Aubrey Holes, were used in the constructions of the bluestone circle and the bluestone horsehoe at Stonehenge, the remains of which we see today.
The oval ring immediately brings to mind Woodhenge, two miles north east from Stonehenge, with its six concentric rings of postholes, possessing an arrangement similar to that of the bluestones at Stonehenge. Taking this a stage further, a plan of Woodhenge with its many concentric ovals was pasted over these two models by Henry Rothwell. Not only does the orientation appear to align but the Stonehenge horseshoe and Bluestonehenge models fit in the gap between the inner most oval and the second oval at Woodhenge. The models were all of the same shape, orientation, and very close in size.
The inference of an oval, as against a circular arrangement, is that it suggests an orientation. Inevitably comparisons are made with both Stonehenge and Woodhenge which are claimed to be oriented on the midsummer/midwinter sunrise.
Bluestonehenge, Woodhenge and the Horseshoe – a connection? - Henry Rothwell, Digital Digging blog, 16 Sep 2011.
Bluestone Henge Twin? - Henry Rothwell, Digital Digging blog 13 Sep 2011.
Bluehenge - Mike Pitts, Digging Deeper, 14 Sep 2011.
Journey to Stonehenge - Smartphone app.
The Bluestone Henge excavation - press release at Digital Digging
A really new stage in Stonehenge history? - Mike Pitts, Digging Deeper, 10 June 2010.
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