The origins of the giant sarsen stones at the Stonehenge site have finally been discovered after a missing piece of the structure was returned to the historical location after 60 years
A test of the core that is a metre in length was matched with a geochemical study on the standing megaliths at the site of Stonehenge.
Archaeologists initially located the source of the stones to an area 15 miles north of the English Heritage site near Marlborough.
Susan Greaney from English Heritage has said that the discovery of the core was “a real thrill”.
The seven-metre tall sarsens, weighing at around 20 tonnes, make up the fifteen stones of Stonehenge’s central horseshoe, the upright stones and lintels of the outer circle of the formation, as well as the outlying stones.
The ancient monument’s smaller bluestones have had their origins traced back to the Preseli Hills in Wales, Stonehenge’s sarsen stones had been impossible to identify and trace up until now.
This comes after Heathrow Airport is proposing a coronavirus testing plan in a bid to reduce the 14-day quarantines and get people travelling by plane as the travel sector suffers under the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers have carried out x-ray fluorescence testing on all of the remaining sarsen stones at the site of Stonehenge, which revealed that most of them shared a similar chemistry and came from the same area.
The researchers then analysed more sarsen outcrops from areas such as Norfolk and Devon which they used to compare their chemical composition with the chemistry of a piece of the returned core.
English Heritage has said that the opportunity to do a destructive test on the core proved “decisive”, and said that it had shown that its composition matched up with the chemistry of sarsens at the West Woods site, which is just south of Marlborough.
Prof David Nash from Brighton University, who led the study, said: “It has been really exciting to harness 21st century science to understand the Neolithic past, and finally answer a question that archaeologists have been debating for centuries.”
“Each outcrop was found to have a different geochemical signature, but it was the chance to test the returned core that enabled us to determine the source area for the Stonehenge sarsens.”
Susan Greaney said:
“To be able to pinpoint the area that Stonehenge’s builders used to source their materials around 2,500 BC is a real thrill.
“While we had our suspicions that Stonehenge’s sarsens came from the Marlborough Downs, we didn’t know for sure, and with areas of sarsens across Wiltshire, the stones could have come from anywhere.
“They wanted the biggest, most substantial stones they could find and it made sense to get them from as nearby as possible.”
Ms Greaney added the evidence highlights “just how carefully considered and deliberate the building of this phase of Stonehenge was”.
This comes after the UK has signed a deal to supply the nation with up to 60 million doses of a potential life-saving COVID-19 vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).