File photo – A sprinkler to water the grass around the ancient site of Stonehenge, in southern England, April 30, 2011.
The old mystery of who built Stonehenge has been resolved, according to a groundbreaking study.
A groundbreaking new analysis of the 25 cremated remains buried at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire has shown that 10 of them lived in the vicinity of the bluestones.
Instead, they came from western Britain, and half of that 10 possibly came from 140 km in the Southwest of Wales (where the earliest Stonehenge monoliths are also traced back to).
The remaining 15 can the local population of the Wiltshire, or any other descendants of migrants from the west.
It is also likely that they will potentially be a mix of men and women and that they are of a high social status, claim experts in a new study.
In all cases, it is unclear whether the individuals died shortly before all parts of the cremated remains were transported to Stonehenge, or they were respected ancestors who had died several generations earlier.
Although the team of scientists, led by researchers from the University of Oxford, and can not guarantee that the remains are of people who actually built the monument, the first cremation dates are described as “tantalizingly” close to the date when the bluestones were brought to form the first stone circle.
The major breakthrough was that the high temperatures of the cremation can crystalize a skull, the storage of the chemical signal from its origin.
Although previous studies have focused on the Stonehenge of the construction – including the origin of the stones and the transport of more than 100 km in the contemporary Pembrokeshire – very little found about the people who built it.
The new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that both people and materials were that between the areas around 5000 years ago, and that some of these people stayed in the region.
When she passed away, their cremated remains were placed under the old monument in what is now Wiltshire.
The oldest bones have been dated to around 3000 BC and then span a range of approximately 500 years.
John Pouncett, lead author of the study, said: “The range of dates increases the possibility that for centuries, people could have been brought to Stonehenge for burial with the stone.”
Co-author Dr. Christophe Snoeck showed that cremated bone faithfully preserves the strontium-isotope composition.
He said that “about 40 percent of the cremated individuals do not spend their later lives on the Wessex chalk where their remains were found.”
The cremated remains of Stonehenge were first excavated by Colonel William Hawley in the 1920s, a network of 56 pits dotted around the inner circumference and the ditch of the monument, known as Aubrey Holes.
Hawley then reburied them on the site to be dug up at a later date.
Pouncett, a spatial technology officer at Oxford School of Archaeology, said the research “gives us a new insight into the communities who built Stonehenge”.
“The cremated remains of the enigmatic Aubrey Holes and updated mapping of the biosphere suggest that people from the Preseli Mountains not only delivered on the bluestones used for the construction of the stone circle, but was moved, with the stones and were buried there,” he added.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.