New Stone Age houses 6,000 yrs old found

A new insight into British pre-history has been unearthed. Archeologists say remains of houses found were over 6,000 years old. Ancient “halls of the dead” more than 1,000 years older than Stonehenge have been found under elongated burial mounds in Herefordshire.

The two earth ‘long barrows’ were uncovered on top of Dorstone Hill near Peterchurch and are thought to date to about 3,800BC.

The archaeologists believe the barrows were created by the setting ablaze wooden long houses, the ashes of which were then covered in earth.

They believe the initial torching of the sites would have been done for symbolic reasons. From the finds, they have worked out that people continued to worship at the there for hundreds of years afterwards.

Professor Julian Thomas of Manchester University said the site is the only one of its type in the UK where “the halls of the living became the halls of the dead”.

“With this phenomenon of deliberately burning down buildings, tending the fire over a period of days, the argument is that you burn these down when the head of the family dies,” he said.

“Here, no new house has been built, but instead they have shovelled up the remains into these barrows and enclosed them with turf.”

Archaeologists have spent a month excavating the mounds during which time they have uncovered fine examples of flint weapons and tools.

The items were either buried in the barrows when they were first created or later left as offerings to the dead, suggesting the site became one used for ritualistic ceremonies.

Prof Thomas said the monuments are the first their kind to be found in the UK and are of international significance.

Julian Thomas

Julian Thomas

Not much is known about the Ancient Britons of the time, except that by 4,000BC, they had only recently started to settle in established communities. Before that, many had been largely nomadic.

It is believed that Neolithic long houses – long, steep-roofed buildings used to house people and animals under one roof – were introduced as farming began in Europe around 5,000BC.

The long houses found under the barrows at Dorstone are some of the earliest known examples in the country.

Construction of the stone structure at Stonehenge, by comparison, is thought to have started in 2,600BC.

The archaeologists have managed to work out, by an analysis of post holes at the original ground level, that the long houses that would have stood on the site would have been around 30m wide by 70m long – the same size as the barrows that covered them.

Although made originally of earth, at a later date the barrows were covered in stones to form cairns like those found in the Black Mountains of Wales.

The smaller of the barrows has the remains of holes which are thought to have contained oak posts that supported a trough lined with planks upon which human remains would be

Among the objects found at the site were some that had come from as far away as East Yorkshire.

The researchers said they were likely to have been brought by families treating the spot as an ancestral pilgrimage site.

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Posted by on July 31, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,UK. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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