Stonehenge is iconic and beautiful. Everyone recognizes this famous arrangement of giant stones, located in Wiltshire, England. Listed as a World Heritage Site, Stonehenge brings in as many as 800,000 tourists to visit it every year. Yet although experts have been able to trace some of the history of this famous and mysterious monument, what has always escaped them is where, exactly, these stones came from. Until now.
According to BBC News, the origin of the famous sarsen stones at Stonehenge has finally been discovered, after a missing piece was removed, then returned 60 years later.
The tall sarsens are about 22 feet tall and weigh around 20 tons. The landmark's smaller bluestones were traced back to the Preseli Hills in Wales, but with this new discovery, they can now identify the origin of the sarsen stones.
The core was removed during archaeological excavations back in 1958, and its location was a mystery until Robert Philips, 89, returned the part last year. With the return of the core, archaeologists were able to examine its chemical composition to locate the origin of the stones.
Researchers ran x-ray fluorescence testing on the core, and this showed that most of the stones share common chemistry, which revealed that they came from the same area.
Susan Greaney of English Heritage, the British organization that oversees hundreds of English landmarks and historic sites, said, "To be able to pinpoint the area that Stonehenge's builders used to source their materials around 2,500 BC is a real thrill."
"It has been really exciting to harness 21st-century science to understand the Neolithic past and finally answer a question that archaeologists have been debating for centuries," Professor David Nash from Brighton University, who led the study, said.