Newly discovered 'superhenge' dwarfs Stonehenge

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Researchers have discovered evidence of standing stones believed to be the remnants of a major prehistoric stone monument near the Stonehenge ruins. (KTRK)

Researchers have discovered evidence of standing stones believed to be the remnants of a major prehistoric stone monument near the Stonehenge ruins.

University of Bradford researchers said Monday the monument is thought to have been built around 4,500 years ago.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project used remote sensing technologies to discover evidence that up to 100 stones formed the monument about 2 miles from Stonehenge. The detailed maps show 17 previously unknown ritual monuments and a massive timber building which is thought to have been used for burial ceremonies.

The evidence was found beneath three feet of earth near the Durrington Walls. No excavation was needed during the investigation and none of the stones have been uncovered and removed.

Some of the stones are thought to have stood 15 feet tall before they were toppled. The project leader, Professor Vincent Gaffney of Birmingham University, says the findings included types of monuments previously unknown to archaeologists.

"Stonehenge has about maximum up to ninety stones at various times, involved in individual phases," said Gaffney. "This has potentially up to two hundred, the scale is dramatic and it's the fact that we found so many stones in situ, preserved within a monument that we've known for some considerable time and yet they' ve remained hidden for four and a half thousand years."

Professor Wolfgang Neubauer of Germany's Ludwig Boltzmann Institute says the new maps make it possible at last to reconstruct the development of Stonehenge over its 11,000-year history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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