New Stonehenge Dig Reveals Prominent Female Burials

It may have been constructed between 3000 BC to 2000 but yes, we’re still getting updates on Stonehenge. Link

The remains of 14 women, believed to be of high status, have been found buried at Stonehenge. Scholars are arguing this supports their theory that, at least for part of its history, Stonehenge functioned as a cremation cemetery for noteworthy individuals.

Interestingly enough, during the recent excavation more women than men were buried at Stonehenge.

The excavation focused on Aubrey Hole 7, one of 56 chalk pits dug right outside the stone circle and dating to the very earliest phases of Stonehenge.

Archaeologist Mike Pitts, the editor of British Archaeology, has been quoted saying, “In almost every depiction of Stonehenge by artists and TV reenactors we see lots of men, a man in charge, and few or no women”. Clearly, the finding of these women hint that Stonehenge is much more complicated, societally, than it has been previously depicted.

Pitts adds, “By definition -- cemeteries are rare, Stonehenge exceptional -- anyone buried at Stonehenge is likely to have been special in some way: high status families, possessors of special skills or knowledge, ritual or political leaders”. Another interesting addition is that no children were found. Of the skeletons, 14 were women and 9 were men and all aged as young adults or older. Pitts suspects that children’s corpses were treated differently, he surmises they were likely also cremated by their ashes were scattered in the nearby river, commenting “There is a common association between late Neolithic religious centers and the sources of upper reaches of significant rivers”.

Willis, a colleague of Pitts adds, that the role of women in society probably “declined again towards the 3rd millennium B.C” but, at the very, least, they seemed to maintain prominence during this particular time period.

Picture taken by Diego Delso, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.