Is the Stonehenge Secret Now Solved? Scientists Say They Know the Site's Meaning

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor? 0191 201 6224 ? tony.henderson@ncjmedia.co.uk

TESTS by a North East scientist have played a key role in revelations about life in Britain 4,000 years ago, which will be screened tomorrow.

For centuries scientists and historians have argued over the meaning and purpose of Stonehenge. Now a research team, led by top archaeologist Professor Mike Parker Pearson, believes it has finally solved many of the mysteries surrounding the country's greatest prehistoric monument, overturning the accepted view on what happened when Stonehenge was built and what it was built for.

The team was granted permission to analyse, for the first time, the ancient remains of 63 bodies buried at Stonehenge.

Durham University archaeological scientist Dr Janet Montgomery analysed teeth and bones from the remains.

She also carried out the same tests on the remains of Early Bronze Age people buried in the north of England.

Teeth and bone carry information about the location in which a person grew up, what food they ate and the climate when they lived.

Once the "signature" characteristics of a local population are established, the tests can reveal incomers.

"People are the product of where they grow up," said Dr Montgomery.

Her work has revealed that rather than staying put in small settlements, ancient people travelled considerable distances.

In places in the North, half of the people whose remains were analysed were not from the local area.

"There was a lot of movement going on and influxes of people. We were taken aback by the extent of the movement of people," she said.

"The number of people who were moving considerable distances is large." Her research also shows that the climate in the Early Bronze Age was similar to today, although earlier Neolithic times were warmer. …