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Monday, September 1, 2008

Stonehenge 'was hidden from lower classes'

Archeologists believe Stonehenge was screened from the view of unworthy Stone Age Britons.
Stonehenge, which today is can be enjoyed by ordinary people and druidic priests alike Photo: Getty Images

The wooden construction extended nearly two miles across Salisbury Plain more than 5,000 years ago, and would have served to shield the sacred site from the prying eyes of ordinary lower-class locals.

Trenches have been dug around the monument, tracing the course of the fence which meanders around the stone circle.

The dig's co-director Dr Josh Pollard, of Bristol University, said: "The construction must have taken a lot of manpower.

"The palisade is an open structure which would not have been defensive and was too high to be practical for controlling livestock.

"It certainly wasn’t for hunting herded animals and so, like everything else in this ceremonial landscape, we have to believe it must have had a religious significance.

"The most plausible explanation is that it was built at huge cost to the community to screen the environs of Stonehenge from view. Basically, we think it was to keep the lower classes from seeing what exactly their rulers and the priestly class were doing."

Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology Magazine and author of the book Hengeworld, said: "This is a fantastic insight into what the landscape would have looked like.

"This huge wooden palisade would have snaked across the landscape, blotting out views to Stonehenge from one side.

"The other side was the ceremonial route to the Henge from the River Avon and would have been shielded by the contours.

"The palisade would have heightened the mystery of whatever ceremonies were performed and it would have endowed those who were privy to those secrets with more power and prestige. In modern terms, you had to be invited or have a ticket to get in."

Original here

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