In Amesbury, in Wiltshire, archaeologists have unearthed new evidence that points to a human settlement that existed on the site nearly 3,000 years before the construction of Stonehenge. One mile from the location of the stone ring, archaeological remains of a human occupation dating back to 7,500BC were recently excavated. The dig was supported by Dr Josh Pollard from Southampton University and led by Open University archaeologist David Jacques, along with his team of volunteers, utilizing a small budget of redundancy money.
The project has been a quest of David Jacques since his time as a student at Cambridge University. During that time he spied an, until then, unnoticed “blind spot” in aerial-view photographs of Stonehenge taken in 1906 that showed a site referred to as Vespasian’s Camp a mile away. The area, at the time, was thought to have been landscaped during the 18th century. Thus, a full archaeological investigation of the area had never been conducted.
“The whole landscape is full of prehistoric monuments and it is extraordinary in a way that this has been such a blind spot for so long archaeologically,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “But in 1999 a group of student friends and myself started to survey this area of Amesbury.”
Due to the location of the site near a natural spring, it was only logical to Jacques that this would have been the ideal location for a human settlement at the time. He began his investigation by first exploring areas where he thought animals would visit in search of food and fresh water, which his reasoning predicted would also be the same locations for human settlements to form. His assumptions proved correct. Since first beginning to pursue the dig artifacts from one of the earliest semi-permanent settlements in the Stonehenge area (7,500 to 4,700BC) have been unearthed. Carbon dating of these relics revealed people resided in the area every other millennium during the Mesolithic era.
Sometimes it is the smaller projects that uncover the greatest mysteries. David Jacque’s excavation project is certainly a great example of this. Leading archaeologists around the world are abuzz with the news and its historical implications.
In the same article on the BBC website, Professor Peter Rowley-Conwy, from Durham University, said: “The site has the potential to become one of the most important Mesolithic sites in north-western Europe.”
The investigation of the site continues as additional funding is sought for a more in-depth pursuit. According to Dr Pollard of the Stonehenge Riverside Project this should hopefully prove easier going forth since “being able to demonstrate that there were repeated visits to this area from the 9th to the 5th millennia BC” is a crucial aspect of humanity’s history that has yet to be explored and further unravels the enigma that is Stonehenge. A deeper look at the people who resided in the area before its construction will give the world insight into its construction and its true purpose throughout the ages.