The first complete 3D laser scan of the stone circle has also revealed tool marks made 4,500 years ago, scores of little axehead graffiti added when the enormous slabs were already 1,000 years old, and damage and graffiti contributed by Georgian and Victorian visitors.
They probably could no longer remember, because they were Indo-European newcomers, and not the same people as the Megalithic folk who built Stonehenge.
Long after the monument was built, when Bronze Age burial mounds rich in grave goods began to be scattered across the plain around Stonehenge, and the archaeological evidence suggests those who could make or trade in metal goods had an almost shamanic status, people carved little images of daggers and axes, many now invisible to the naked eye, into the stones. Scores more have been revealed by the scan, including 71 new axe heads, bringing the total to 115 – doubling the number ever recorded in Britain.
"It is wonderful to have discovered so many more, but what is fascinating is that they are carved without regard to the importance or the siting of the stones – almost as if the people who carved them could no longer quite remember the significance of the monument and how it worked," Greaney said.
A little history:
Craniologists of the time used a ratio based on length and width measurements, known as the cranial index, to divide skulls into two basic types: 'dolichocephalic', long and narrow in shape, and 'brachycephalic', broad and round in shape. Based on his observations at sites like Belas Knap, Thurnam established his famous axiom, 'long barrows, long skulls; round barrows, round skulls'. The long skulls were found in long barrows and never in association with metallic artefacts, while round skulls were found in round barrows sometimes with metalwork.
Thurnam's and Rolleston's theories gained considerable credibility in the late Victorian period and survived well into the earlier 20th century. Such racist theories failed to stand up, however, in the face of Gordon Childe's arguments for the definition of an archaeological culture based on shared social characteristics and material culture rather than race or biological type. In addition, the considerable moral repugnance felt towards Victorian anthropology and its role in the rise of fascist ideology in the 1930s caused the argument over long and round skulls to be sidelined and eventually dismissed. The identification of the Bronze Age incomers based on their material culture, including metalwork and Beaker pottery vessels, remained a more acceptable alternative.
In the 1990s, however, the archaeologist Neil Brodie took a fresh look at the craniological evidence and concluded that there was undeniably a difference between the shape of skulls from Neolithic long barrows and Bronze Age round barrows. A trend from long to round skull shape was clearly shown.
We don't have DNA evidence from British round barrows yet, but Beaker burials from Germany show the first R1b ever found, while Neolithic Western Europe shows a mix of I2a and G2a. Difference in material culture? check. Difference in physical anthropology? check. Difference in time of appearance? check. Difference in genetics? preliminary check.
The differences, he argued, could be caused by cultural practices, such as the binding of infants' heads, as well as by diet and a range of climatic or environmental factors. Looking at the totality of human history, he showed that head shape fluctuates in populations over long periods of time, and that extremes of head types occur in successive prehistoric populations as a matter of historical chance.
So, it seems like a good bet that the people who carved axehead graffiti on Stonehenge were simply invaders who took over the site from the previous inhabitants, and, as is so often the case, used it for their own purposes.