Home Science Mysteries Stone Circle Discovered That Could Be Older Than Stonehenge

Stone Circle Discovered That Could Be Older Than Stonehenge

Archaeologists have revealed that a newly discovered stone circle could be of a similar age to Stonehenge. The mysterious ruined structure is the first for more than a century. Archaeologists believe that this is evidence the area was home to an advanced ancient civilization.

Sittaford-stonecir_3300812b
Recently discovered Sittaford Tor stone circle at Dartmoor National Park may be over 4,000 years old.
(Image: Dartmoor National Park Authority)

Archaeologists discovered the massive ancient stone circle on Dartmoor, which is near Sittaford Tor. The circle is the highest circle in southern England at 1,722 feet (525 meters) above sea level, and the second largest on Dartmoor, with a diameter of 112 feet (34 meters).

Dartmoor National Park Bronze Age stone circle Image: Screenshot/YouTube
Scorhill Bronze Age stone circle at Dartmoor National Park. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The ancient circle would have formed part of a “sacred arc” of sites on the moor, and the remote location and sheer ambition of the arc suggests careful planning went into its construction. “It’s spectacular, the highest circle we’ve got,” senior archaeologist at Dartmoor National Park Jane Marchand told Mail Online.

Dartmoor National Park:

Alan Endacott, an independent academic researcher, originally uncovered the Sittaford Tor circle in 2007 when, after a controlled burn, the stones were uncovered.

But next to nothing was known about the circle until geophysicists carried out the recent carbon dating, because a lack of funding meant no research could take place. The ring is believed to form part of eight separate megalithic constructions forming a “sacred arc” across northwestern Dartmoor, wrote The Telegraph.

Dartmoor National Park Bronze Age stone circle Image: Screenshot/YouTube
Bronze Age stone circle at Dartmoor National Park. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mike Nendick, an archaeology expert and spokesperson for Dartmoor National Parks, painted an evocative picture of what this arc may have looked like.

“It’s speculation, but it might be that you had ceremonies on dark, clear nights, with flames visible from one circle to the other,” he told Mirror Online.

Bronze Age Dartmoor—The life of Marghwen:

“These stone enclosures stood on remote moorland and looked across the hills. It’s incredible to imagine this civilization, who would have spoken an alien language and behaved totally differently to modern-day British people,” he said.

To reveal the age of the stones, Archaeologists used radiocarbon dating, testing soil samples underneath the stones. They discovered that the stones fell over around 4,000 years ago, which means they were erected as far back in history as 3,000 BC.

Dartmoor National Park Bronze Age stone circle Image: Screenshot/YouTube
Bronze Age stone circles at Dartmoor National Park. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Mr Nendick said that the discovery allowed researchers to “begin to build a picture” of the communities that lived on Dartmoor in the Neolithic era. “We think that the stone circles were part of their religious practices, and some excavations show that fires were burnt in the middle of the rings.”

He said that the building of the sacred arc showed “a level of co-operation between tribal communities” for religious purposes, adding that this and other discoveries in the national park suggested “not primitive peoples, but highly skilled artisans” who traded internationally, and with other coastal communities, reported Mirror Online.

Dartmoor National Park Bronze Age stone circle Image: Screenshot/YouTube
Grey Wethers Bronze Age stone circles at Dartmoor National Park. (Screenshot/YouTube)

“It’s spectacular, the highest circle we’ve got,” senior archaeologist at Dartmoor National Park Jane Marchand told Mail Online.

“The sacred arc sites are nearly all perfect circles, so lots of thought went into their construction. It could have been a community effort, with circles in the arc belonging to specific communities in the area,” she said.

Dartmoor National Park Bronze Age stone circle Image: Screenshot/YouTube
Stalldown Row Bronze Age stones at Dartmoor National Park. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Stone circles are shrouded in mystery, with their exact purpose being the subject of much speculation among archaeologists.

It is thought that stone circles were the sites of religious ceremonies.

Many were built to align with the sun and moon at significant times in the solar calendar, such as the solstice, according to Marchand.

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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