Stone-age visitors to the site of Britain’s most famous historical monument held “bring your own barbecues”, new research has revealed.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
10 Sep 2008
Cattle were brought to Stonehenge from as far as Wales and even the Scottish Highlands Photo: Analysis of animal remains found near to Stonehenge has shown that cattle were brought to the area from as far away as Wales or even the Scottish Highlands.
Scientists tested the chemical fingerprint of cattle teeth found at Durrington Walls, a Neolithic monument built 500 years before Stonehenge.
They found that far from being local, the animals could only have been reared in areas of Wales or Scotland, which have high levels of the chemical element strontium in the soil.
It suggests that the area around Stonehenge was already an important national site long before the famous stone circle was erected and attracted pilgrims from all over the British Isles.
Dr Jane Evans, from the British Geological Survey who carried out the research, said: “It looks like people were driving cattle to the area from a significant distance away.
“The area must have been an important place for rituals and gatherings long before the first stones were laid at Stonehenge itself.
“People are coming from considerable distances and dispersion in order to have feasts and were bringing their own food supplies for what must have been a kind of bring your own beef barbecue.”
Durrington Walls 500 metre wide circular earthwork that was studded with wooden posts and dates back to more than 3,000BC.
Stonehenge was not built until around 2,500 BC.
Large numbers of animal remains have been found at the site suggesting it was a hotspot for feasts.
Speaking at the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr Evans explained they used teeth to examine where the cattle had come from because they absorbed strontium from soil through the grass they ate in the same way as teeth absorb calcium from food.
Different types of strontium, known as isotopes, are found in different geological areas of the country.
The nearest match to those found at the Durrington site were extremely old rocks found in Wales and the Highlands.
Saw it on Dienekes blog, which I shamelessly mine for info once a month.