Stonehenge: A Decade of Discovery
Research funded by the AHRC over the last decade is directly feeding into the new multimillion pound visitors’ centre to be launched at Stonehenge this week. The research has overturned previously held views on the origins and the history of the UK’s foremost prehistoric monument and one of the most famous heritage sites in the world.
To mark the opening of the new building and the central role these research findings will play in the visitor experience, the AHRC is launching a new film that examines a decade of research at Stonehenge, and how this research has transformed our knowledge of Stonehenge.
This AHRC film features Professor Mike Parker-Pearson whose research at the site has reached a global audience, Professor Parker Pearson’s research at Stonehenge spans three major research projects that total a £1.75million investment by the AHRC. The Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2006 led to the discovery of a second, smaller stone circle. Dubbed ‘Blue Stonehenge’, the discovery made the front pages of newspapers around the world. The two subsequent projects, The Beaker People, and more recently, Feeding Stonehenge have furthered our understanding of the ancient monument, suggesting that Stonehenge was built to unite the tribes of stone age Britain with one another, and, crucially, with their ancestors, that periglacial formations which are coincidentally aligned with the winter solstice may have been the reason that the site was first chosen by the first builders and indeed that the main axis is the mid-winter sunset rather than midsummer sunrise. This last finding confirms the long-held belief that Stonehenge was built with an astronomical purpose.
The much anticipated new visitor centre opens at Stonehenge on Wednesday 18 December 2013. Apart from modern facilities, visitors can expect a stunning exhibition that will fascinate even those who have seen the Stones before. This is the first time Stonehenge has had a space worthy of its importance to have its story told and with the help of a decade of world-class research funded by the AHRC, visitors will be able to discover the complex and fascinating history of Stonehenge for themselves.