New discoveries at Stonehenge

Prof. Michael Parker Pearson


Since 2003 there has been a new period of excavation and research on Stonehenge. With two excavations inside Stonehenge and many more around it, archaeologists now have a new chronology for this famous monument as well as the prehistoric monuments with which it is associated. While theories of its use as an astronomical observatory were proposed in the late 20th century, current approaches re-interpret Stonehenge’s astronomical alignments as calendrical indicators for the timing of social gatherings, in which Stonehenge was part of a larger complex of monuments in wood and stone, centered on a short stretch of the River Avon. Many of these other monuments were also designed to mark astronomical events but these have received less attention than their more famous stone counterpart. In 2009 the Stonehenge Riverside Project, which has been conducting most of the new research, discovered a new stone circle, named as Blue stonehenge, next to the River Avon at the end of Stonehenge’s avenue.

About the talk

New discoveries at Stonehenge
Prof. Michael Parker Pearson
University of Sheffield, UK
Thursday October 21, 2010 - 0:00 GMT+1  (Aula)
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About the speaker

Mike Parker Pearson is a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. He is an internationally renowned expert in the archaeology of death and also specialises in the later prehistory of Britain and Northern Europe and the archaeology of Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean. He has published 14 books and over 100 academic papers, on topics that range from architecture, food and warfare to ethnoarchaeology, archaeological theory and heritage management. He has worked on archaeological excavations in Britain, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Madagascar, Syria, Easter Island and the United States. Recently, he has directed field research projects in the Outer Hebrides, Madagascar and the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Since 2003 he has directed a team of archaeologists on the Stonehenge Riverside Project, conducting new excavations at Stonehenge and sites around it. In 2004-2007, he found evidence of a large settlement close to Stonehenge and contemporary with its main phase of construction. In 2009, he discovered a second stone circle, known as Bluestonehenge. He has recently been awarded a £1m grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council of the UK to investigate the resourcing of Stonehenge. He is also a member of the panel for advising on Stonehenge’s proposed new visitor centre.

Mike joined the University of Sheffield in 1990, having worked as an archaeologist for English Heritage, the national government agency for archaeology. He has a BA from Southampton University (1979) and a PhD from Cambridge University (1985). He has been a Member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (MIFA) since 1989 and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries since 1991. He has recently been Vice-President of the Prehistoric Society.

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