Woodhenge: Stonehenge’s Sister Circle Made of Wood

Nov 10, 2015 0 comments

Less than 2 miles north-east of the famous Stonehenge stood another Neolithic-age monument but made of timber. Although the wood is long gone, archeologists discovered postholes arranged in six concentric oval rings, the outermost being about 40 by 43 meters. The postholes are of varying diameters and depths indicating that the posts were of differing heights. Some of these postholes are up to 2 meters deep and could have supported wooden pillars as high as 7.5 meters. The positions of the postholes are today marked with concrete posts.

Surrounding the posts, there are remains of an outer bank and an inner ditch, a structure known as a “henge”. The ditch was up to 12 meters wide and 2.4 meters deep, while the bank was about a meter high and 10 meters wide. Altogether, the henge has a diameter of 110 meters.


Photo credit: deadmanjones/Flickr

At the center of the rings, archaeologists found the grave of a crouched child which is believed to have been a sacrifice. Another grave of a teenager was found on the Eastern section of the ditch, opposite the entrance. The entrances of both the Woodhenge and the Stonehenge are oriented approximately to the midsummer sunrise, and the diameters of the timber circles at Woodhenge and the stone circles at Stonehenge are similar.

It has been suggested that like Stonehenge, Woodhenge performed an important ceremonial role for ancient people who gathered at the summer and winter solstices to mark the passing year with sacred rituals.

Today, the site contains a set of low concrete posts that mark the position of the original wooden posts. The diameters of the concrete posts approximate to the size of posthole found. The posts are color coded to indicate rings and those holes that did not fit into the regular pattern. You can still make out the remnants of the bank and the ditch. Near the center is a cairn of flints which marks where the grave of a young child was found. On the south side is an old concrete pillar with a brass description plate.


Photo credit: Anguskirk/Flickr


Photo credit: Lyn Dafis/Flickr


The location of the grave is marked by a pile of stones. Photo credit: Matt/Flickr


Picture of the woodhenge taken with the tilt-shift effect. Photo credit: Phelyan Sanjoin/Flickr


Photo credit: marcus_jb1973/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / Stonehenge Tours / National Geographic


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