Archaeologists have pinpointed the construction of Stonehenge to 2300 BC - a key step to discovering how and why the mysterious edifice was built.and new interpretations about its function:
The radiocarbon date is said to be the most accurate yet and means the ring's original bluestones were put up 300 years later than previously thought.
Professors Darvill and Wainwright believe that Stonehenge was a centre of healing - a "Neolithic Lourdes", to which the sick and injured travelled from far and wide, to be healed by the powers of the bluestones.
They note that "an abnormal number" of the corpses found in tombs nearby Stonehenge display signs of serious physical injury and disease.
And analysis of teeth recovered from graves show that "around half" of the corpses were from people who were "not native to the Stonehenge area".
Such a prominent edifice need not have a single function. Healing cults tend to form around important religious sites irrespective of their original purpose.
There is a BBC Timewatch documentary on this which will air on Sep 27; a couple of video clips are on the BBC site. Apparently, the scientists suggest that the bluestones were put up ~2,300BC, while the trilithons were put up ~2,100BC. The monument started to enter its phase of decline and neglect ~1,900BC.
Interestingly, as pointed out in the clip, the new date for the erection of Stonehenge coincides with the burial date for the Amesbury archer.