Mysterious builders of Stonehenge ‘were actually Welsh’, study finds

The mysterious builders of Stonehenge included people who had travelled from Wales 5,000 years ago, a new study has shown.

Stonehenge's 'bluestones' came from west Wales – and analysis of skulls found at the site, suggests that the workers may have travelled from Wales.

The bluestones are thought to have been quarried in the Preseli Mountains of west Wales.

An analysis of 25 skull bones left over from being cremated at the site found at least 10 did not live near Stonehenge prior to their death.

Instead the highest strontium isotope ratios in the remains were consistent with living in western Britain, a region that includes west Wales.

Although strontium isotope ratios alone cannot distinguish between places with similar values, this connection suggests west Wales as the most likely origin of at least some of these people.


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The 25 skulls were originally excavated from a network of 56 pits in the 1920s, placed around the inner circumference and ditch of Stonehenge, known as 'Aubrey Holes'.

The cremated human bone came from an early phase of the site's history around 3000 BC, when it was mainly used as a cemetery.

Lead author John Pouncett, spatial technology officer at Oxford's School of Archaeology, said: 'The powerful combination of stable isotopes and spatial technology gives us a new insight into the communities who built Stonehenge.

'The cremated remains from the enigmatic Aubrey Holes and updated mapping of the biosphere suggest that people from the Preseli Mountains not only supplied the bluestones used to build the stone circle, but moved with the stones and were buried there too.'

Lead author Associate Professor in Scientific and Prehistoric Archaeology Dr Rick Schulting at Oxford, explained: 'Some of the people's remains showed strontium isotope signals consistent with west Wales, the source of the bluestones that are now being seen as marking the earliest monumental phase of the site.'

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