BU staff and students are part of a team of archaeologists and geologists that have found two of the Welsh quarries that provided stones for Stonehenge.
The very large standing stones at Stonehenge are of ‘sarsen’, a local sandstone, but the smaller ones – known as ‘bluestones’ – come from the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire.
Geologists have known since the 1920s that the bluestones were brought to Stonehenge from somewhere in the distant Preseli Hills, but there has now been collaboration with archaeologists to locate and excavate the actual quarries from which they came.
Radiocarbon dating of burnt hazelnuts and charcoal from the quarry-workers’ camp fires revealed there were several occurrences of megalith-quarrying at rocky outcrops of Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin.
Stonehenge was built during the Neolithic period, between 4,000 – 5000 years ago, and both of the quarries in Preseli were exploited in the Neolithic.
One of them, Craig Rhos-y-felin, was also quarried in the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago.
Professor Kate Welham, Professor of Archaeological Sciences, led the BU team as part of the project.
She told The Guardian: “We’ve been conducting geophysical surveys, trial excavations and aerial photographic analysis throughout the area and we think we have the most likely spot. The results are very promising. We may find something big in 2016.”
The project has been led by University College London, alongside experts from the Universities of Leicester, Southampton, and Manchester, and the National Museum of Wales and Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
Its results will be published in the journal Antiquity, and the project also features in a new book published this month by the Council for British Archaeology - Stonehenge: making sense of a prehistoric mystery.
Further excavations are planned for 2016.
The project has been funded by the National Geographic Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Archaeological Institute, the National Museum of Wales and the Cambrian Archaeological Association, with support from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.