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Friday, November 14, 1997 Published at 15:34 GMT



Sci/Tech

Prehistoric English ceremonial site uncovered

An artist's impression of the original building of the temple

Archaeologists have found the remains of a prehistoric ceremonial site which has been described as the biggest in Britain.

English Heritage officials say it is as old and comparable in significance to the megalith monument in Stonehenge, although twice as large.

Traces of the temple, in well-defined pits, were found in Stanton Drew, near Bristol.


[ image: Sir Stevens said the temple was used to worship the supernatural]
Sir Stevens said the temple was used to worship the supernatural
The Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, suggested that the structure was built as a "symbol of power" by people seeking to control the supernatural.

Dr Geoffrey Wainwright, English Heritage's chief archaeologist, said the discovery was the most significant in British pre-history archaeology in 30 years. He explained: "We have about 3,000 stone circles in Britain but previously only seven timber temples."


[ image: The henge is thought to be the largest in Britain]
The henge is thought to be the largest in Britain
"The Stanton Drew find is by far the largest, twice as big as anything previously discovered," he said.

The site was found by using ground scanning equipment to plot the extent of the buried structure.

Dr Wainwright said that previous excavations at sites such as Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, both near Stonehenge, had shown that the pits once held massive posts.


[ image: The stones stand above the site]
The stones stand above the site
"It is a strong possibility that this was the case at Stanton Drew," said Dr Wainwright. "But here the circles are more numerous and their size is much greater than at the other sites."

The site will not be fully excavated because it conforms exactly with seven other sites within the UK.








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